What are the facts?
What we wear, how it is produced, how we care for clothes, and how we dispose of them has as a significant impact on the environment. Here are a few things to think about to focus the mind
- Textile production is one of the largest producers of green house gases (GHG) and actually generates the highest GHG emission per unit of material
- Switching to sustainable fibres such as organic cotton and hemp can reduce our carbon footprint by over 25% and reduces water usage
- Most of the carbon and water footprint of apparel comes from its production
- Less, but still a significant amount, comes from apparel washing and care
- Much apparel is made as a byproduct of the livestock meat industry which is unsustainable in itself
- Natural fibres such as jute and linen act as carbon absorbers and therefore trap and lock in carbon naturally when growing
What can a business do?
Textile and accessories businesses can consider the following
- Incorporate and build in the benefits of sustainability into the appeal of products. Make items more desirable than non sustainable alternatives
- Choose and incorporate more sustainable fibres and fabrics into product supply chain
- Don’t take short cuts or engage in greenwashing
- Ensure the supply chain is understood and suppliers are transparent in the origin of textile components
- Be open and transparent with your customers on the material used to create textiles and its sustainability profile
- Communicate the benefits of higher quality longer lasting garments
- Offer a high quality repair service
- Be transparent on carbon reduction programmes for full cycle product lifecycle and communicate where work us under way even if not complete
What can an individual do?
There are many things you can do to make a positive impact for the planet. You can target your shopping to reward the producers who are working hard to make a difference on sustainability.
- Consider spending a little more on higher quality sustainable clothing for longer product life and pleasure
- Avoid fast fashion – most is low quality and ends up in landfill or is not suitable for re-selling, re-use or even recycling
- Choose more sustainable fibres and fabrics to reduce carbon pollution, reduce the impact to our water supplies and help improve soil management
- Repair clothes and shoes that aren’t worn out to extend useful life. Many producers now offer a high quality repair services
- Save clothes from landfill by selling or passing on unwanted items. Start ‘shwapping’ by finding out your nearest recycle stores and sites
- Extend garment life and save energy by washing only when needed, lowering washing temperatures, avoiding tumble drying and reducing ironing (hurrah!)
- Support producers who minimise environmental impact, maximise quality and have transparent carbon reduction programmes for their production processes