Sustainable fashion takes the leads, is it true? Fashion, like all forms of art, is first and foremost a practice of self-expression. We often wear our clothes and only think about how they will serve the specific purpose we need and forget to consider the long and difficult process needed to finally hold these clothes in our hands. Although it is generally recognized that the fashion industry has a significant impact on the environment, the level of damage caused is staggering.
Between the production of clothing and the increase in the number of clothes people have, the environment feels more damage than before. According to the United Nations, the fashion industry produces 20% of global wastewater and 10% of carbon emissions worldwide. The textile dyeing process is the second-largest source of water pollution. To produce a pair of jeans, it takes about 2,000 gallons of water. Half a million tons of microfiber is released into the sea when clothes are washed annually.
Does Sustainable Fashion Take the Lead?
With the average woman in America who has seven pairs of jeans and an average American family washing about 8-10 laundry per week, this is clearly not a continuous cycle. Due to underutilized clothing and lack of recycling, at least $ 500 billion is lost every year.
If the industry is left unchanged, it will spend a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050. Obviously, this is a problem that requires timely and serious changes through international collaboration. Each company needs to take steps to improve and consumers need to change their behavior to be more sustainable.
Responding to the increasing environmental impact, the United Nations for Sustainable Fashion was launched in March this year. This group aims to change the “fashion pathway, reduce negative environmental and social impacts; and changing fashion to be a driver of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Fashion is a $ 2.4 trillion industry, employs 75 million people worldwide, and the Alliance recognizes how this can be seen as a potential source because it makes significant changes and can greatly assist the overall progress.
This organization is trying to promote collaboration between various initiatives that have the same goals and to use the name of the United Nations to voice the issue of unsustainable fashion. Although still relatively new, the Alliance is a starting point for improvement through international collaboration that will be needed to change the path taken by the fashion industry.
On a smaller scale, changes from individual producers and retailers will be needed to enable real change. In particular, companies must switch from fast fashion, where the runway appearance is regenerated quickly and cheaply.
Fast fashion causes negative environmental impacts because of a much higher increase in production. However, quality is not the priority, so fast fashion leads to faster clothing and more waste.
The fall of Fast fashion Forever 21 and Sustainable Fashion Takes the Lead
However, some retailers who are fast-fashion manufacturers have to file for bankruptcy, for example Forever 21 in September 2019. This could represent changes in consumer preferences for more sustainable and high-quality garments.
Some companies have tried to make the changes needed to stay competitive because consumers are starting to be more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases. Prada, for example, announced in June the launch of the Re-Nylon project which is a line of bags produced from regenerated nylon.
While companies like Prada clearly have a very long way to go to be environmentally friendly (Prada still produces leather products), these steps are preliminary and show the potential for greater shifts, across the entire industry. On a smaller scale, individuals can reduce their environmental impact by buying fewer fashion products quickly and caring more about supporting companies that focus on sustainable fashion and care about the environment.