FASHION

Need to champion sustainable fashion ahead of COP 26

A great deal of innovation is being crafted to produce lower impact fabrics.

In Summary

• Sustainable fashion is a movement that champions fostering the change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice.

• Wastewater toxins from the fashion industry include toxic substances like lead, mercury, arsenic, and more.

Sustainable fashion design
Sustainable fashion design
Image: EFI

Apparel affects Earth's water supply through pollution.

Clothes and textiles come in second when it comes to pollution, contributing 10 per cent of the greenhouse emissions and nearly 20 per cent of water waste this is after oil which accounts for 45 per cent of the pollution.

A report by the World Resources Institute report cites 1.2 billion tons of CO2 is released in the atmosphere per year by the fast fashion industry.

In most countries where garments are produced, untreated toxic wastewaters from textile factories are dumped directly into water sources.

Wastewater toxins from the fashion industry include toxic substances like lead, mercury, arsenic, and more.

Sustainable fashion is a movement that champions fostering the change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice.

The fashion industry represents an important part of our economy and with the fashion sector booming, increased attention has been brought to the impressive range of negative environmental impacts of the industry on the environment.

The UN estimates that a simple pair of jeans requires a kilogram of cotton, and because cotton is grown in dry environments, producing a kilo requires about 7,500 – 10,000 litres of water.

That’s about 10 years’ worth of drinking water for a person.

Cotton ready for harvest.
Cotton ready for harvest.
Image: FILE

Many trendy jeans contain a stretchy elastane (stronger than rubber) material that is made using synthetic materials derived from plastic, this reduces recyclability and increases the environmental impact further.

From waterproof jackets to delicate scarfs, around 70 million barrels of oils are used to make polyester fibres in our clothes.

Polyester is easy to clean, durable, lightweight and inexpensive.

A polyester shirt produces an equivalent of 5.5kg of carbon dioxide compared to 2.1kg from the cotton shirt.

Although cotton might be the way to go, the pressure on water still remains

However, a great deal of innovation is being crafted to produce lower impact fabrics.

Some companies are looking to use the waste from fruits, wood, and other natural materials to create in their textiles, as others are trying to use alternative ways of dying their fabrics or searching for biodegradable materials that are less harmful to the environment.

The United Nations alliance for sustainable fashion’s criteria for fashion is that:

  • Sustainable fashion has eco-friendly production and packaging systems
  • Sustainable fashion uses emission reduced production
  • Sustainable fashion uses organic materials and is handcrafted.

Also for people who work in the industry, sustainable fashion also means better working conditions, fairer pay and fewer illegal items.

Fashionistas remember to dress cute and smart but make it eco-friendly!

Edited by D Tarus