The Urgent Need For Sustainability in The Fashion Industry
The fashion industry, second only to oil, is one of the world's most polluting industries
Making clothes typically requires the use of a large amount of water, chemicals and the process emits large quantities of greenhouse gases. It is estimated that making 1 kilogram of fabric generates an average of approximately 23 kilograms of greenhouse gases. Unfortunately, practically every stage in the life cycle of clothing has negative implications for our planet. Even after the consumers leave the store with their newly purchased apparel the sustainability impacts of clothing continue: washing and drying approximately 1 kilogram of clothing over its entire life cycle creates on average 11 kilograms of greenhouse gases.
The Great Expansion
The apparel industry has doubled from 2000 to 2014 and it has steadily continued its growth since, however technological advantages and eco-friendly solutions for its process have not yet been able to catch up!
Over this period of intense growth we have also noticed a change in mentality, given the affordability and availability of ‘in trend’low-cost fashion, some estimates suggest that consumers treat the lowest priced garments as nearly disposable discarding them just after a few years. As a result, over 50 per cent of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators.
Moreover, it is important to note that if the world’s population rises to 8.5 billion people by 2030 as expected by the United Nations overall apparel consumption will rise by over 50 per cent amplifying significantly the scale of the problem.
As the millennial generation raises and gains more purchasing power, we start to see a rise in sustainable practices in the fashion industry. “Sustainability, interestingly, it's really important with the young generation,” says Levi Strauss’s Chip Bergh. “In China... the value they place on how brands do business, what brands stand for is off-the-charts compared to any prior generation.”
In 2018 we begin to see an evolution in sustainability efforts, they are beginning to be treated as an integral and defining part of the entire fashion value chain. It is today, extremely encouraging to see commercial advantages for the brands that choose a sustainable business model, as a high percentage of millennials are willing to spend more on brands that are sustainable.
The Urgent Requirement
The need to deliver products with more positive impacts on the environment and society has never been clearer. Community, environment and industry need to thrive together responsibly and respectfully. The fact is sustainability is no longer an option but a necessity as at this rate climate change possesses a significant threat to the sourcing of raw materials such as cotton, wool and cashmere (to name a few) on which the industry depends upon.