Life cycles of clothes

CSR Asia today reports about a life cycle assessment of a pair of 501 jeans presented by Levi’s. According to this report a typical 501 during its life time has a CO2 emission of 32 kg (which equals driving 125 in an average car), a water footprint of 3500 litres (like showering 52 times 7 minutes) and in total 400 MJ of energy are consumed during the life cycle”. The usage stage contributed to 45% of overall water consumption and 57% of energy consumption. Top loader washing machines and tumble drying takes 295 MJ, compared to 90% reduction for front loaders and air drying.

Patagonia writes that the production and transportation (Turkey-California) of one T-Shirt takes 11 MJ, which produces 1.6 kg CO2.

The difference of more than 100 MJ between the two calculations still makes me wonder. So I looked into a maybe more neutral study: Julia K. Steinberger, Damien Friot, Olivier Jolliet and Suren Erkman (2009): A spatially explicit life cycle inventory of the global textile chain. The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment. 14(5), 443-455. They even found that 70% of CO2 is used in the consuming stages, and they come to the following CO2 consumption of a T-Shirt worn for 100 days:

12.9 kg CO2 (warm washing, maching drying)

6.7 kg CO2 (cool washing, air drying)

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