Environmental management – black and white, or shades of grey?

Environmental management – black and white, or shades of grey?

As you may be aware, I’ve been thinking about ‘plastic soup’ a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about my clients, but also my personal environmental impact in relation to the clothes that I wear.

Inevitably, they are not all made from natural fibres, and we now know that the fibres from clothing break off when we are wearing the clothes as well as when we wash them, causing significant pollution issues when those fibres are made from plastic.

It’s an easy conclusion to reach that I should wash those clothes less (within the bounds of social acceptability!), and possibly even wear those clothes less. But should I replace them with clothes made from natural fibres? And if I did, what should I do with the old clothes?

My usual reaction to questions like this is to think that it’s better to use something that’s already made because of the environmental impacts associated with buying replacements.

But is that the case here? Do the environmental impacts of continuing to use man-made fibres outweigh the environmental impacts of replacement?

As is so often the case with environmental issues, that’s not an easy question to answer. It reminded me of how, in environmental management, we rarely deal with black and white issues. We have to get used to working in shades of grey and making judgements according to our priorities, based on an imperfect amount of information.

What are the environmental issues that you’re wrestling with at the moment?