Here’s some reasons to jump on board. “GO GREEN” – “GO VINTAGE”
Did you know that The fashion industry is the world’s second largest polluter, yep… right behind fossil fuels!
Lets talk about Fashion and Sustainability for a minute:
In our history our foremothers of fashion had an up close and personal relationship with mother earth. Hundreds of years prior to the industrial revolution they not only had to grow their own cotton or spin their own wool but make their dyes also etc. Dependent of where you lived. In this time, you took from the land to make your garments. As this was a laborious task from land to body, you valued your garments, made them last and only threw out and made new as when absolutely necessary. (Slow fashion in its original form!)
Fast Forward: The industrial revolution changed all this, although, still relying on human power to make garments, the invention of machines to assist and the shear force of numbers for labour was the the beginning of the end of the fashion supply change. Although it democratised fashion, the mass manufacture of clothing has grown at such a pace that now we can now buy a white
t-shirt for $3 wear once and throw out tomorrow.
Fast Fashion started in the 90’s with mass manufacture companies like H&M, Zara, Top Shop, Forever 21, Valley Girl etc which turnaround new fashion trends every few weeks to entice fashionistas to buy more. When that trend over, most of it is thrown out as landfill. Fast Fashion does not wear well and it does not last, it was never made to be sustainable it was made to be disposable. The average woman wears 1 item of clothing only 7 times in its lifetime then they throw it out as compared to the 19th & 20th century habits of re-fashioning or re-purposeing the garment due to its value in labour to make and the robustness of the fabric which allowed it to have multiple lives.
Here are some snap shot statistics that I have truncated out of one of my favourite Podcasts “Dressed: The History of Fashion”:
SHOCKING FAST FACTS:
- It takes up to 80 people to make the average garment in the supply chain from the growers to the retailers and the majority of those are women;
- Designer labels dump and burn their unsold products rather than cheapen the brand by fire sale etc; Burbary was reported recently to burn up $37Million dollars worth of brand new goods rather than to sell cheaper or give to charity! Imagine, they could have clothed a whole 3rd world village with that excessive waste. Instead, it went up in smoke and polluted the environment and went to landfill (This is just ONE designer label story)
- Fashion landfill stats are scary: Hong Kong sends 253 tonnes of textile waste to land fill EVERY SINGLE DAY! The USA deposited textile waste to the tune of 10 million tonnes last year! I wonder how Australia is doing? Well…. Australians buy an average of 27kg of textiles each year, and 23kg is then thrown into landfill, a “YouGov” report has found.
- In 1960 landfill in the US was less than 2 million tonne, now 5 times that amount gets thrown out every day.
- The white T-Shirt and Blue Jeans, still the most favourite look, the most widely purchased BUT, also they are the two single garments that impact the environment the most in its production and life, i.e.: 1 Cotton T-shirt takes 2700 – 6000 Ltrs of water to produce from growers to consumer – That is about 6 years of 1 humans consumption of this liquid gold AND 1 pair of jeans: 7000 to 29000 litres of water from growers to retail that is equivalent to 25 years of 1 humans consumption of water. Not only the water usage but what about the chemical & toxic waste they cause. Have a look at this: MUST WATCH: Documentary: Riverblue – The impact the denim & fashion industry has on our rivers and waterways. Compelling watching.
- Due to fast fashion trends we buy on average 60% more clothing today than we did 20 years ago.
- For the most part we do not use our fashion til it no longer exists, so, in essence, we are not consumers, rather, we are users of fashion that is: we throw it out before its life is over unlike food we consume until gone, we use fashion until we tire of it.
- If action isn’t taken, one quarter of our total impact on climate change will be due to clothes consumption by 2050 (Harrabin, 2018).
Did you know the difference?
Natural Fibres vs Synthetic fibres – impacts:
Although Natural fibre uses a lot of water, the downside to synthetic/polyester fibres is the release of plastic microfibres each time you wash your clothes. These microfibres of plastic are so fine they go out to sea with your grey water and create soupy sludge (and island of plastic) in our oceans that cannot be cleaned up (Like an oil slick) … There are bags you can use to wash your clothes to help this situation and you can find them HERE.. Also, washing machine manufacturers are looking at new filters that can install to capture this plastic waste so it can be disposed of properly (This can’t come too soon!)
Natural Dyes vs Synthetic Dyes – Impacts:
Synthetic dye came about in 1740 and the main colour was indigo… Direct Acid Dye was the most used and the most toxic on environemnt and life. Germany banned the use of this dye in 1996 and the rest of the world soon followed but it is still in use in some clothing due to the fact that it is cheaper.
Natural Dyes, although better, used a lot of water.
Today, most used dye is Fibre reactive dye which uses less water, less energy and is safer.
Current fibre trends:
The continuous search for better, sustainable and environmentally friendly fabrics has led to some interesting inventions, findings and unearthing of old traditional fabric that has been around for centuries:
Tencel: One of such creations is the Lyocell fabric commonly known as Tencel. Lyocell is a natural, manmade material made from wood cellulose or pulp grown in a renewable forrest.
This is done using an advanced solvent spinning process.
Bamboo: although fabulous, due to excellent marketing campaign has grown in popularity and toted as the gamer changer in fibres, grows quickly, doesn’t need pesticides to grow BUT.. not a great fibre due to its need of heavy chemicals to refine it down to make it a wearable product, plus the popularity of product wiped our bamboo trees so land clearing of virgin forests too make way to create bamboo farming.. hmmm!
Hemp: Hemp is often considered an environmental “super fibre”. Hemp fabric is made from the fibres in the herbaceous plant of the species cannabis sativa. It’s a high-yield crop that produces significantly more fibre per acre than either cotton or flax:
Hemp creates one of the most eco friendly fabrics in the world. Hemp requires no pesticides, crowds out weeds without herbicides, controls erosion of the topsoil, and produces oxygen. It is a renewable resource that can be cultivated in as little as 100 days and is the world’s most versatile fiber.
Hemps’ tensile strength is eight times that of cotton fibre which accounts for its historical use in sails and rope for the British and American Navies. It is an exceptionally durable and strong eco friendly fabric.
Fabrics made from hemp are hypo-allergenic and non-irritating to the skin. Current tests indicate that hemp is able to kill staph and other bacteria that come in contact with its surface.
This image above presents seven forms of (more) sustainable and circular fashion. The first verison was created in 2012 and was later updated in 2016. Created by Dr. Anna Brismar, Green Strategy.
Ideally, all aspects of the figure above should be combined for every new garment produced. Hence each garment should first be manufactured on demand or custom-made (No. 1), in high quality and timeless design (No. 2), in an environmentally friendly manner (No. 3) and with consideration to various ethical aspects (No. 4). Thereafter, it should be used long and well through good care, repair and perhaps redesign (No. 5). When the product is no longer desired, it should be handed in to a secondhand shop, donated to charity or handed over to friends, relatives or perhaps a swap-shop, to prolong its active life (No. 6 and 7). When the garment is completely worn out, it should be returned to a collection point for recycling of the textile material, which can hence be reused in the manufacturing of new clothes or other textile products. Ideally, instead of buying newly produced clothes, one should consider renting, borrowing or swapping clothes (No. 6), or to buy secondhand or vintage (No. 7).
Yes there are huge problems and without everyone doing their bit to change this behaviour we are all contributing to killing our mother earth.. slowly but surely. BUT we can help change this around. Here are some great ways you can implement change:
Yours and mine: OUR FUTURE GOAL:
- Use the Take Back Programs that are offered by Fast Fashion Chains (Hopefully they are recycling those clothes)
- Donate your unwanted clothes to charity for the homeless, disenfranchgiesed or marginalised in our community
- Look for “O” WASTE fashion
- Use of Re-Rolling Fabrics
- Use of No Waste Patterns
- Wash Clothes Less, wear them more over their life.. not the average 7 but more like 30 times before it dies
- Purchase with sustainability in mind, think of cost per wear, calculate how many times you might wear it vs the cost of purchase
- Purchase 2nd hand and vintage
- Curtail the need to buy something new all the time.. Retail therapy needs to change to a different kind of therapy
- Support Small Business that promotes ethically grown and manufacturers goods that are sustainable
- Support Charities making sustainable items
- Buy washing bags to capture the micro polymers to precept our waterways
- Wash jeans twice a year
- Educate yourself on environmental sustainability
Slow Fashion means looking at designers who follow the following principal:
* Clean Production
* Fair Work and Pay
* Good Fabrics
* Understanding the production line from growers to retail and beyond
Fact Sources: Tara St James, Dressed Podcast, Google, Wikipedia
Our clothes shouldn’t have to cost the earth, nor should we have to jeopardize our sense of style or interest in fashion. However, through being more mindful about the fashion industry and trying to help where we can we should be able to work towards a more sustainable future.
I do hope you have enjoyed this reading and learnt something new and found a new appreciation of the slow fashion movement, I know I did when I was researching. I’d love to hear of the ways in which you are contributing to the slow fashion movement as they may encourage me and our readers to join the revolution of sustainability in our fashion world.
Much love in my dirty smelly jeans!
Miss Chrissy x