It is a good thing to keep fashion afloat, but it is also germane to keep the sustainability of our planet Earth at heart while trying to explore the world of fashion diversity. There has been a major paradigm shift from the era of just weaving and stitching to the time of heavy manufacturing of garments, hence, having an impact on the environment.
Fashion industry accounts for about 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions from anthropogenic agents (man), but there is a clever way of reducing the impact of your wardrobe on the climate. It is imperative to know that the continuous emission of these greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane gas, carbon monoxide, etc) are greatly depleting the ozone layer which serves as the umbrella shielding the Earth from the short wave radiation from the sun, and this in turn is leading to imminent climate change. Also, the fashion industry accounts for about 20% of the global wastewater.
Did you know?
Fashion consumes more energy than aviation and shipping companies combined. This is to make us understand the chunk of waste (solid, liquid, and gas) that the multi-faceted industry steadily churns out.
From the production of a pair of jean to its disposal as waste is accompanied with a release of gases. Often than not, what makes the fashion industry impugned with some problems is the frenetic pace of change it not only undergoes, but encourages.
As it seems difficult to perfectly visualize all the inputs required to produce a garment, let’s take denim jean as a perfect example. It has been estimated by the UN that a single pair of jean requires kilogram of cotton to be produced. Taking into cognizance the dry environment that cotton tends to grow, producing a kilogram of this cotton would require about 7,500 to 10,000 liters of water to grow. In estimate, that is about 10 years’ worth of drinking water for one person.
Primarily, the stretchy elastane material in many trendy jeans made up of synthetic materials derived from plastics, and which reduces recyclability of the cloth and in turn increasing environmental impact.
Furthermore, Levi Strauss, a jean manufacturer estimates that a pair of its legendary 501 jeans produces about 33.4kg of carbon dioxide and which is equivalent to driving about 69 miles in the average US car. The estimate stems from the fiber and fabric production which garners one-third of the estimate 8% coming from cutting, sewing, and finishing the jeans. Also, 16% of the emissions is from packaging, transport, and retail and while the remaining curls from consumer use (washing the jeans and disposal in landfill).
How To Mitigate The Environmental Impact
With manufacturing exploring ways to reduce the environment decadence caused by fashion activities, many people opine that recycling of the waste is the best bet to have a safer environment and greener planet. Other companies are taking their discourse into using waste from wood, fruit, and other natural materials to create textile in a very sustainable way. Whereas, some people are researching on alternative ways of dyeing their fabrics and scavenging for better biodegradable materials to use instead.
Interestingly, some research has inferred that online shopping can reduce the carbon emission than walking to stores buy products, especially when the customer is not living in a stone thrown distance to the store. With the trendy rise of online vendor, there has been a change in the behavioral pattern of customers towards purchase. Customers can order in bulk online and they get delivered to his/her doorstep. But, keeping the sustainability of our environment in check, it is pertinent to just order what we need and intend to keep. This comes in corroboration with the World Bank report that 40% of clothing purchased in some countries is never used and which later ends up being burnt or in landfill (constituting greenhouse gases to the Earth atmosphere).
In furtherance, another way of reducing waste cause by fashion is encouraging first hand users to sell the product back to the fashion company after use or sold to secondhand clothing stores. According to a sustainable fashion expert, Fee Gilfeather, “Secondhand clothing is giving clothes a second life and it’s slowing down the fast-fashion cycle.”
In cases of worn or damaged beyond repair clothing, recycling is the best environmentally sustainable way of disposal.
Conclusively, bulk of these changes to mitigate the dastard effect of fashion in the environment are from the implementation strategy planned by manufacturers and big guns in the fashion industry. As consumers, our quota is being conservative in our behavioral pattern to drive a positive change in the industry.