Have you ever wondered how you contributed to sabotaging the environment? If not it’s high time to dig deeper into the treasure, which is a greener Earth. You know what I’m speaking about. Yes, it’s about the fashion industry and the need for sustainable fashion. The fashion industry is one of the top industrial sectors in the world, with a value of 3 trillion dollars and produces 2% of the global GDP according to global fashion industry statistics. Accordingly, 1 in 6 people work in fashion or related industry Furthermore moving closer, the Indian fashion and apparel industry produces 1586 dollars in GDP per capita and enabled 45 million recruitments within the country. It is presently the second-largest employer within the country. Hence proving to be one of the top industries carrying out Apparel manufacturing process involving Product Design, Fabric Selection and Inspection, Patternmaking, Grading, Marking, Spreading, Cutting, Bundling, Sewing, Pressing or Folding, Finishing and Detailing, Dyeing and Washing, QC etc. 100 billion items of clothing are produced annually.
Adding onto the positives, there are many drawbacks to the very fortunate industry. It had been and is still on the top list of the contaminating industries in the world. Say, the textile industry is the second largest pollutant in the economy. The facts that had been put into due negligence till now is being brought to the limelight by Brands and fashion enthusiasts.
Blights of the fast fashion
1. Savagery towards animals
It is not a new fact to us that animals are manipulated to produce clothes or apparel items that seems to be a top trend. Most items produced from fur, leather, wool, feathers are obtained from the mass pestering of innocent animals. Sumanthran tigers and American alligators in the endangered category were still poached for cloth production.
2. Unfair wages and working conditions
As to the latest protests and struggles to achieve a full-fledged fashion revolution, we see the campaigns with people holding placards written ‘who made my clothes’ and ‘i made your clothes’. It wasn’t any happy day speech, they are the behind the scene labour workers under hardships produce all the commodities as to the recent demands. We often tend to forget them blindsided by the white-collar workers.it had been brought to the mainframe that blue-collar workers of Bangladesh, India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc had minimal protection towards worker’s rights. Under prevailing pandemic conditions, these marginal workers were reported losing jobs, being underpaid, cancelled from orders or being not even adequately paid in which they suffered meeting even the food demands of their family. On the other hand, it has become a custom to exploit farmers to the company and middle-men needs.
3. Customer attitude
The next crucial factor towards non-circular fashion is the growing needs of customers for top quality, yet cheap and mind-blowing colourful garments. consumers are well aware of the upcoming trends and glams of the industry, leading to the fast adoption of these newbies. Speaking of which is a necessary evil. It is brought to the view that one in every three young women restricts herself from wearing a cloth multiple times. As to its blitzscaling, fashion companies are compelled to showcase more attire than the actual need.
4. Water pollution
We have come to the major part of the discussion on fast fashion. It is every living being’s responsibility to safeguard the natural resources and pass on the same to the forthcoming generations. Water consumption of the textile industry had met its way beyond the danger zone. It takes 2720 litres of water to manufacture one cotton shirt and 7000 litres to make a pair of jeans. The pollution made to the water bodies doesn’t end there, the chemicals used for the mass production of the garments are disposed of directly or indirectly to the same. It is estimated that one-third of microplastics prolonging in the oceans is the impact of synthetic textiles. These are more deadly as the tiny they are, wouldn’t pass through the filters. The Aral sea, renowned as the world’s fourth-largest lake, has almost dried up as a result of the nearby cotton cultivation. The Kitex industry was recently accused of dumping excessive waste into the nearby waterbody.
5. Excessive carbon emissions
It is said to be true that the fashion industry is responsible for 8-10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere. The major cause of this is the extensive use of synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic, spandex, faux fur, rayon, etc. Polyester ranks top on the intake of crude oil compared to all others by 70 million barrels annually. Transportation is the other means of carbon ejaculation contributed by the global distribution strategies.
6. Textile waste
It is said that one garbage truck of textile waste is disposed of every second. This breathtaking fact does prove the intensity of the issue we are dealing with. This directly points out the rising rage for unsustainable fashion culture. For example, polyester is made from the polymerization of petroleum-derived ethylene glycol and purified terephthalic acid, which meltdown to produce polyethylene terephthalate (PET). As such many synthetic fibres are either termed plastic or made out of non-renewable substitutes that concern the ecology.
How can changes be made? How would fashion statements or the industry as a whole regain its fortune? Is the zero-waste fashion possible? Would buyers change their outlook on fashion?
It is time to join hands on the fashion revolutions put forth by fashion creators and promoters on ideas like sustainability, circular economy, zero waste fashion and so on. The idea of the fashion economy sabotaging ecology is given a better view as a result in modern days. Brands now are looking into logical practices to ensure sustainability and restrain themselves from misfortune. Let’s get to know the efforts taken by the industry dignitaries to achieve a stable eco-friendly fashion culture.
Overhaul to fad fashion
1. Sustainable brands
Brands that prove accountable to safeguard bionomics, sacrificing the trend sets should be promoted. Brands those prioritise natural fibres, work with local artisans and so on to gain environmental, economic and social well being. These companies tend to visualise customers as creatives. For example Reff jeans and Girlfriend collective
2. Circular fashion
‘Circular fashion’ can be defined as clothes, shoes or accessories that are designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulate responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use. (Anna Brismar, Green Strategy, 2017). This is the basic idea of the longevity of any garment cycle.
“The circular economy refers to an industrial economy that is restorative by intention; aims to rely on renewable energy; minimize, tracks and eliminates the use of toxic chemicals; and eradicates waste through careful design.” (Ellen MacArthur Foundation)
3. Zero waste fashion
It is the concept of reducing the waste produced with the garment during its life cycle. Furthermore, it is divided into two categories, pre-consumer zero-waste fashion and post-consumer zero-waste fashion. Pre-consumer zero-waste fashion is a holistic approach towards the removal of waste during the manufacture of garments. post-consumer zero waste fashion, on the other hand, is the approach towards post-consumer garments, what more the garment could be used for.
4. Natural dyeing
These are the ancestral dyeing methods using degradable and natural materials like plant sources like roots, fruits, etc. yet the wide-ranging possibilities of this are still in doubt. Whereas a bit of sacrifice towards betterment wouldn’t hurt.
5. Mutating customer attitude
Nowadays customers are more aware of the rising issues on the planet and do agree to take responsive mutation to the outbreaking situations. Social media has had a great influence in making this change possible. When buying an outfit, consumers should ask themselves questions like how is this made, is it a need, how long it would stand, and what to do after. Renting and swapping is too given better focus
6. Personal style
Rather than buying all the so-called latest trends, customers should be aware of their personal style. Personal style does mean the unique way you dress, determining what suits you well, colours favouring, vulgar eliminating, defining yourself and gives you much confidence.
7. Recycling commodities
Brands have come up with the idea of accepting their old products in store. Moreover, specific recycling methods are being conducted and succeeded to a certain level that includes unbinding the fibres to yarns and reforming them to new ones so the focus centralises virgin fibres. As of now, only 13% of clothing and footwear is recycled but in the near future, this is to be a big number. And take care the brands don’t blindside you with mere greenwashing recycling programs.
8. Aquatic treatment
Brands now maintain a ‘water budget’ to not exceed the water demands. It is also noted that natural fibres take in less water for manufacture. There are more ethical ways to dye clothes without the use of water is a plus. Whereas to solve the issue of microplastics, using guppy friend washing bags and installing Girlfriend Collectives microfibre filters in laundry machines is recommended.
9. Ban on poaching
This year London fashion week has been announced prohibiting animal fur due to the rising concerns and brands like Burberry, Gucci and Versace guaranteed to go fur-free. At the same time, Adidas and G-Star RAW introduced apparel produced of ocean plastic. Companies now are developing materials that substitute animal-based leather to the ones made with grape and orange skins which are more laboratory-made.
10. Reducing carbon outrush
The profound carbon emissions are put to a stop by altering synthetic fabrics made of crude oil to natural ones like peach palm fabrics. Transportation caused pollution could be eliminated by procuring and sourcing local resources and employing local artisans.
11. Neat and intact employment
Sustainability couldn’t be possible without fair wages, constant job opportunities with regular and stable working hours. Meanwhile, farmers and blue collars should ensure a safe environment with right protecting laws and policies from the government. So that they could be self honoured with at least meeting the daily living standards which every person of the democracy should enjoy.
This isn’t a very pleasing method compared to others on the list. Yet leading a simplistic life could make a big change. Demand is directly proportional to supply. So when demand decreases supply decreases and so will production. Less production leads to the concentration of ones being produced and existing ones, this is where the difference would be visible.