Sustainable Fashion, measures to reduce the impact of world’s second most polluting industry
Fashion industry is affected by Earth systems, and vice versa, factors like consumer behavior, the use of natural materials or the pollution produced by this industry affects them in a multitude of ways. The impacts of even a single product are likely to be significant and far-reaching, especially as supply chains in the fashion industry are often complex and international . Assessing these impacts may be difficult, firstly, because the consumerism, environment and the fashion industry are intimately linked. Secondly, because fashion has some important sustainability problems, by being the second most polluting industry in the world after oil industry. By 2030, industry’s global water consumption is expected to grow by 50 percent to 118 billion cubic meters (or 31,17 trillion gallons), its carbon footprint will increase to 2,791 million tons, and the amount of waste it generates will reach 148 million tons.
Sustainability is about sustaining things – most obviously our planet. But when we talk about sustaining something, let us say fashion, we need to be clear about what exactly we want to sustain and what is problematic.
Not everything here on Earth is endless, we live on a finite planet, yet around us we can see that things are growing and accelerating. Are there limits to how fast or how much we can produce and throw away? It is clear now, that fashion and textile industry needs to reduce its damaging environmental and social impacts across the supply chain. This means moving away from a dependency on using virgin materials and processing chemicals and a consideration at the design stage of factors such as emissions, recyclability and biodegradability. It also means that designers should develop a new sustainability mindset when making decisions about the way they create and use materials. One way to do this is to replace high-impact fibers and processes with alternatives that are organic or use low or zero chemicals.
Eco design has had an unfavourable name for years, and it has been a challenge for designers not to sacrifice the ‘cool’ label for ‘ethical and responsible’. Fortunately, over the last couple of years, some of these attitudes have begun to change, and many designers now desire to affect change towards sustainability.
Many brands are using organic cotton initiatives to reduce water, energy and chemical use. Moreover, there are new dyeing technologies to reduce water consumption by up to 50 percent, as well as numerous energy and chemical saving programs throughout the supply chain. Our era is defined as the Anthropocene and, according to Johan Rockstrom of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, we have only 50 years to make the changes needed to ensure our wellbeing on earth for the next 10,000 years. This is a huge undertaking for us all. We have the greatest opportunity of any humans to impact the greatest number of humans, if and when, we all recognize what is at stake and commit to the intention to leave a future for those who will inherit all that we enjoy.