How can the fashion industry become more sustainable?
Second to oil, fashion and textiles is the most polluting industry in the world. Every stage in a garment’s life threatens our planet and its resources. It can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton, equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans. Up to 8,000 different chemicals are used to turn raw materials into clothes, including a range of dyeing and finishing processes. And what becomes of the clothing that doesn’t sell, falls apart or goes out of style? More often than not, it is discarded in giant landfills. How can the fashion industry become more sustainable?
By putting her own deeply held values at the heart of her business, Stella McCartney has sparked awareness and action across the fashion industry. Now, McCartney is plotting her next steps.
BoF gains rare access to Inditex — the world’s largest fashion retailer and parent company of Zara — to understand how the business is addressing the vast environmental impact of its operations.
Since the the worst disaster in the history of the garment industry, collaboration on safety has improved, but worker welfare lags behind, experts say.
Fashion’s failure to move beyond the most easily achievable — and easily marketable — sustainability issues puts it behind other sectors, argues Lucy Siegle.
In order to reduce fashion’s environmental impact, people must pressure the suppliers to fashion’s biggest brands to publicly disclose their pollution, says Tristan Tremschnig of Greenpeace.
Dr Linda Greer, senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says fashion designers should cut out toxic chemicals and choose their materials carefully.
Fashion brands should stop manufacturing leather goods using methods that compromise the quality of their products and damage the environment, argues Mesh Chhibber.
Fashion businesses should pool their resources and industry leaders must learn from their peers. Only then will the fashion industry achieve lasting, sustainable change, says Jonas Eder-Hansen.
Industry leaders must make their businesses more transparent and begin to change where and how their products are made, argues Julie Gilhart.
Smaller fashion brands are miles ahead of big businesses when it comes to sustainability, says Rachel Kibbe, leader of the social media campaign #itsnotjuststella.
Our actions — consuming less, pushing for positive change - can lead to two-way change and collaboration. We can't always point the finger at businesses.
By Kristen Marano, Keilor, Australia