15 years ago, a high street shopper and shops were not interested about sustainable fashion at all. Fortunately, this attitude towards responsible patterns of buying has been changing during the last few years. Companies such as Levi Strauss and Adidas are making an effort in order to link design with climate change, rational use of water and recycling. For example, Levi’s store is working in partnership with local communities in U.S. to recover plastic bottles, and food trays. Those bottles are cleaned, sorted, crushed and made into a polyester fibre, which is then blended with cotton and woven into the denim of Waste<Less™ jeans and Trucker jackets. On the other hand, Adidas by Stella McCartney launched a T-shirt that uses a technology the brand says uses no water during the dye process.
Despite efforts the Forum For The Future has identified specific key environmental challenges, which are not exclusively associated to designers and shops. They are also related to our actions:
- Fashion consumption – the increasing number of fashion items that we buy and then dispose of.
- The intensity of cotton production requiring lots of energy, water and pesticides.
- Energy consumed when we are washing our clothes contributes to climate change.
- Chemicals in the working environment can be toxic and damage workers health and the local environment.
- Unsustainable man-made fibres can take longer to degrade in landfill sites.
- Fashion miles that burn carbon as fabric and clothing are transported around the world.
- Animal welfare – ensuring that good standards are upheld during leather and wool production, and avoiding fur.
Therefore, would you like to contribute to your happiness and at the same time support the environment?
Mahatma Gandhi once said: “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” and “there is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger & unhappiness”. You don’t have to stop washing your clothes. However, you could buy clothes that you are really going to wear more than once. You can also recycle your clothes by giving your old clothes to a charity or younger cousins.
Reports in the UK have shown that we purchased approximately 1.9m tonnes of textiles, and in the same year discarded 1.2m tonnes which went to landfill or was incinerated. Only 0.3m tonnes were resold or recycled through charities in 2005.
On the other hand, you could buy clothes from companies with good environmental records, which consume less energy and fewer resources during their supply chain. Individuals contribute to local and global sustainability when they adopt more responsible patterns of buying and consumption.
So, small contributions from all of us can reduce environmental impacts, in order to have a clean air to breath for all of us, clean rivers to swim for all of us, and a home for our future generations.
How can organisations make profit and support the environment?
We all can make a contribution in order to sustain our environment. In this opportunity Pharrell Williams is best known as a singer, rapper and producer, but he is also a shareholder of and creative director of Bionic, a New York-based brand that creates textiles from harvested ocean waste and has partnered with G-Star Raw for the collection.
Pharrell has mentioned during his interviews that “The whole concept behind Bionic was to create raw materials that had tailored aesthetics and performance, while still being able to recycle the plastics that were harvested out of the environment,” Coombs said. “This is the highest bar you can set as an environmental textile company.”
Williams suggested he believes the ecologically friendly clothing line runs counter to the consumer culture that dominates contemporary media.
“You’re always getting this very consistent messaging that you need things,” he said. “And if you don’t buy this jacket, she’s not going to look at you. And if you don’t have this lipstick, it’s going to smear in five minutes. That’s the way that a lot of companies market their products.
“Taking care of the world and thinking about your home is not number one on the list,” he continued. “Making some fashion that considers the planet, considers water and considers the people who consume it — that’s a good day at work for me.”
Fashion can be a universal player in protecting the planet. Fashion is certainly a huge part of everybody’s lives. You wear it every day and for some people it’s a status symbol, or a statement of how much they have spent on clothes, or it’s a means of expressing their identity and who they are.
Bionic Yarn and G-Star Raw are trying to infiltrate the entire spectrum of fashion, high-end and low. It’s a part of sustainability and the cause is to never throw anything (plastics and trash) into the ocean again. The ocean is just one part of the Earth we’re concentrating on, but about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. It’s a huge place to start.
Read more at:
Oakdene Hollins, 2006. Recycling of Low Grade Clothing Waste. [online] Available at <http://www.inno-therm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Recycle-Low-Grade-Clothing.pdf> [Accessed 11 March 2015].
Forum for the Future, 2007. A review of the sustainability impacts of the clothing industry. [online] Available at <https://www.forumforthefuture.org/sites/default/files/images/Forum/Documents/Fashionsustain.pdf> [Accessed 09 March 2015].
USA Today, 2014. Pharrell Williams goes Raw with sustainable fashion line. [online] Available at <http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/style/2014/09/05/pharrell-williams-goes-raw-with-sustainable-fashion-line/15155731/> [Accessed 10 March 2015].
National Geographic, 2014. Pharrell Williams Launches Denim Line Made From Recycled Ocean Debris. [online] Available at <http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2014/03/13/pharrell-williams-launches-denim-line-made-from-recycled-ocean-debris/> [Accessed 09 March 2015].
The USGS Water Science School, 2014. How much water is there on, in, and above the Earth?. [online] Available at <http://water.usgs.gov/edu/earthhowmuch.html> [Accessed 09 March 2015].
Raw for the Oceans, 2015. G-Star. [online] Available at <http://rawfortheoceans.g-star.com/> [Accessed 07 March 2015].