With the rise of “fast fashion” and consumer demand for more and more inexpensive clothing, there are many sustainability issues in the fashion industry. But can fashion really become sustainable?
There are several issues the fashion industry must address. In this blog we’ll address the massive problem of pollution and what can be done to limit waste in order for fashion to be more sustainable.
People are buying more clothes than ever before, but even worse – they are also disposing of them more quickly.
In fact, “the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing each year,” according to thredUP’s annual Resale Report. Unfortunately, much of the discarded clothing winds up in landfills or incinerators, increasing hazardous chemical and greenhouse gas emissions.
What Can Be Done?
Sites like Tradesy and Poshmark help consumers resell their clothing. Still other brands like Rent the Runway and Style Lend let users rent the clothing, wear and return. Even a growing number of retailers are getting in on the apparel rental subscription trend: New York & Co. (NY&C Closet), Express (Express Style Trial) and Loft (Infinitely Loft) to name a few.
This is a welcome and refreshing shift in the industry. However, according to one sustainable fashion expert, Dr. Mark Sumner with University of Leeds School of Design in England, “Ethically-minded brands believe the single biggest issue stopping them becoming more sustainable is the consumer; either through their lack of awareness of the issues faced by the industry or through an unwillingness to pay the premium for sustainable products.”
Consumers need to explore the idea of cutting back and donating more. Want to learn how to build a more sustainable wardrobe? Check out Gone to Green’s step-by-step guide.
A variety of toxic chemicals are used to treat fabrics during the textile manufacturing process. Chlorine bleach is used to lighten fabric. Benzidine and toluidine are used to dye fabric and as a flame retardant. Even formaldehyde is used for crease resistance. Throughout the manufacturing process, fabric is washed and re-washed, causing these toxic chemicals to be released as untreated wastewater that pollutes waterways and groundwater. In all, an estimated 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to bleach, treat, and brighten our clothes.
What Can Be Done?
Textile manufacturers have begun to develop waterless dyes to color treat fabrics. These dyes could drastically reduce water pollution and, of course, cut back on the industry’s water usage. Manufacturers have been reluctant to adopt these new processes, due to the high cost of new equipment and technology. But the high cost of not changing comes at a hefty price for the environment. Clothing brands need to take a hard look at their supply chains and pressure textile manufacturers to step up or step out.
Consumers, on the other hand, can look for sustainable fabrics like bamboo. Bamboo is a very fast-growing grass that is pest resistant. So unlike cotton, it does not require the use of pesticides or herbicides to thrive. In addition, bamboo plants have modest irrigation needs. Additionally, it is biodegradable (not all fabrics are). We love the bamboo options offered by one of our favorite sustainable brands: Midori.
Cleaner, Safer, Smarter
Would you like to have peace of mind knowing that your clothing is earth-friendly and safe enough for everyday use? Learn more about Gone to Green Market so you can shop cleaner, safer and smarter.