In 2021, the one question that bothers most consumers is that, “Can fashion brands become carbon-neutral?
The Trillion Dollar Fashion Industry contributes about 10% of the global greenhouse gases. This is due to involvement of a long yet complex supply chain. Apart from the carbon sensitive supply chains, fashion industry consumes various other valuable resources as well.
“TO make just one pair of denim jeans, 10,000 liters of water is required to just grow the one kilo of cotton needed for the pair of jeans. In comparison, one person would take 10 years to drink 10,000 liters of water.”- United Nations Climate Change
There is steady improvement in the luxury segment as brands are able to implement new technologies that can help them decrease the carbon footprint. Whereas medium to small fashion brands might take longer to upgrade as it might cause economic strain. Big names such as adidas, Elevate Textiles, G-Star Raw, H&M, Pidigi, Puma, Sympatex Technologies, Mantis World, House of Baukjen, Bottletop, Reformation, and VF Corporation have pledged to reduce the carbon footprint. By reducing the use of raw-materials that leaves large carbon footprint.
How Can Brands Turn Towards Sustainable Fashion?
An Ethical Fashion Supply Chain
According to Investopedia, “A supply chain is a network between a company and its suppliers to produce and distribute a specific product to the final buyer”. The fashion supply chain among other supply chains is said to be a complex one because to produce to a pair of shirts the involvement of various kinds of process is quite fascinating.
Suppose “Gucci” decides to create a shirt for its new collection. Now the creative director will decide what kind of design, fabric and materials will be used for the shirt.
The fashion brand will send out the requirement(s) to the textile or fabric manufacturers. Accordingly, fabric manufacturers will produce the desired material. This process is the same for manufacturers supplying other materials such as buttons, zips etc.
The collection of raw materials i.e. fabric, dye, accessories is then carried out followed by quality checks.
Using the help of CAD or Computer Aided Designs samples are made which again go thorough checks. If the samples are found to be satisfactory. It finally reaches the assembly units where individual materials are assembled to make the final product i.e. shirt in this case.
Next in the supply chain is the packaging and final delivery of the product to the customers (in case of online store) or brick or mortar shop. Large warehouses are used to store the products.
The fashion supply chain is a complex process that leaves a massive amount of carbon footprint.
According to Nike Inc., 70 percent of Nike’s carbon footprint comes from the production, manufacturing, and finishing of the materials that makes its products. The company has committed to phasing out single-use plastics by 2030 and is aiming to remove single-use plastic bags from all its retail stores by 2021.
Recycling of Textile
The textile industry occupies the second spot in the list of most polluting industries. Time and again, environmentalist and experts have questioned the practices adopted by the industry.
The rise of fast fashion is one of the factors that contributes to fail recycling of textiles, often ending up in landfills rather than reaching the recycling unit. As these are mostly made of non-renewable resources making it almost impossible to recycle.
Globally just 12% of the material used for clothing ends up being recycled.
The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. The average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year.
We are buying more clothes than before! Thanks to the growth in economy. Experts from the industry suggests that the clothes we wear today has an average life span of 2-8 years.
Shirt, Jeans, Tees and Inner wear have the shortest life span.
The entire system involved in the production demands water as resources, can harm the environment with toxic substances such as chemicals, pollutants etc.
Promote Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable Fashion demands a greater transparency between the consumers and the brands. Indeed, the objective of fashion brands should be to deliver products to consumers made using sustainable materials.
Cotton and Polyester, the two widely used fibre in production of clothes.
“ Cotton’s most prominent environmental impacts result from the use of agrochemicals (especially pesticides), the consumption of water, and the conversion of habitat to agricultural use. Diversion of water and its pollution by cotton growing has had severe impacts on major ecosystems such as the Aral Sea in Central Asia, the Indus Delta in Pakistan and the Murray Darling River in Australia. “ @ WWF
There is the urgent need to undergo intense overhaul in the textile industry. Factories should implement the latest technologies that can accelerate the sustainability projects.
Polyester (PET) is the most widely used fiber in the apparel industry, accounting for around 52% of the total volume of fibres produced globally. The apparel industry accounts for around 32 million tons of the 57 million tons of polyester used each year. Currently, only approximately 14% of this comes from recycled inputs – predominantly from post-consumer PET bottles (Textile Exchange Preferred Fiber & Materials Market Report 2020).
We hope that the brands will work together with different suppliers and work towards achieving sustainable fashion goals. In which reducing the carbon footprint becomes the top priority.