How many times do we need a top so just pop to Primark for a quick fix of fashion, however, do we ever think about how sustainable our clothes are. Businesses across all sectors are looking to become more sustainable, and the fashion industry are following suit. From adapting their manufacturing methods to varying the materials that they use, what is the industry doing to reduce their carbon footprint? Trilogy Stores, retailers of premium designer clothing such as AG Jeans, investigate.
What is the problem?
Due to their negative contributions to global warming, fashion magnets have been under fire. The players in the industry should be working together to improve their production process and become more environmentally conscious. Currently, less than 1% of material used to make clothing is then recycled into new clothing. There are other worrying facts that are associated with the industry too:
- The estimated cost to the UK economy of landfilling clothing and household textiles is £82m per year.
- People aren’t wearing their garments as much as they used to — the average number of times a piece of clothing is worn before it’s no longer used has decreased by 36% in 15 years.
- One kilogram of fabric generates an average of 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases.
The way forward
To help solve this problem that seems to be dominating British news, fashion brands should start considering the use of different materials. Hemp for example, is a plant-based material and is one of the most versatile out there. It’s currently used for cleaning products, building materials and has been found to be stronger than the commonly used cotton. It’s good for the environment too as it requires less pesticides and herbicides than cotton needs to grow.
To make the appropriate changes is to go a lot further than changing materials — becoming transparent is a huge factor too. This can push them to become more environmentally friendly as consumers and governing officials can see their supply chain and identify any areas that could be improved. Fashion Revolution have their own index, The Fashion Transparency Index (FTI), that ranks how much information the largest 100 global fashion businesses reveal about their social and environmental policies. In 2017, they discovered that 31 brands now disclose a list of their suppliers for all to see — an increase from five in 2016.
Why don’t fashion retailers begin to consider using soy in their products? Unlike silk and cashmere, animals aren’t involved in the production of the material and it is machine washable and wrinkle resistant — a plus for fashion consumers.
One brand that has put themselves out there to look for more sustainable solutions is H&M — after they announced a €1 million competition looking for new ideas. This is what some of the innovators discovered:
- Polyester-eating microbes — this discovery of a new type of microbe is able to eat an old shirt and break the polymers down so that they can be sold back to manufacturers that work with polyester.
- Recycling food waste — this innovation involved turning by-products of citrus fruits into raw materials that can be used to create clothing.
- Recycling cotton — using an environmentally friendly solvent, old cotton clothing is dissolved and a new material is created that can be spun into new fibres.
Brands who have made the move to sustainability
To please the eco-conscious consumer across the globe, some brands have already taken a step in the right direction to become more sustainable:
1. Stella McCartney
One designer who’s clothing is free of animal product is Stella McCartney’s. In fact, hers was the first luxury brand that was anti-leather and anti-fur, with many other brands following in her footsteps. Her brand prides itself on its commitment to leading ‘a responsible, honest and modern company’.
Made from 100% recycled polyester, McCartney designed beautiful jackets and sneakers — making 50% of her entire womenswear products sustainable.
Shopping through this company will help you connect with sustainable brands from across the globe. They have created a platform where eco-conscious fashion customers can browse various garments in one place. Brands are all made from natural fabrics and long-lasting products. To embark on more sustainable adventures, Almasanta sends out their products in 100% recycled packaging whilst also storing items that guarantee to reduce the use of energy and water.
3. AG Jeans
This brand pulls out all of the stops by using Ozone Technology which helps reduce the water consumption by 50% — removing the need for chemicals and energy from clothing production. They also use sustainable fibres such as Tencel® and Modal® which are entirely biodegradable and therefore don’t have long-lasting effects on the environment as other materials do. Recycling heat from dryers to reduce energy consumption by 46% — their heat saving equipment goes a long way to helping the planet.
Although there is still room for improvement in the fashion industry, these small changes will collectively make a huge difference. Even if each retailer made a small environmentally-focused change, we’d see a huge difference. With advancements in technology with eco-friendly clothing materials, who knows what the future holds?