Fast fashion creates an astonishing social and environmental cost. The impact in terms of water use, pollution, carbon emissions, waste, gender inequality, and human rights are at a constant rise, so the necessity for a change is of crucial importance.
And how not to be? The fashion industry’s environmental footprint worldwide is massive. The clothing consumption back in 2019 was 62 mil tons. For those garments to be produced the water use reached 93 billion cubic meters, while the water wastage resulted in 20% of the overall wastewater worldwide. 10-20% of the global pesticide usage was dedicated towards cotton production and all of this created 10% of all CO2 emissions for that year.
Every action is worth it
Some brands understand the impact they had so far on their environment. They drew the line and started implementing changes that many other brands could follow. Below are just a few of those world leading examples:
Toms started using 100% organic cotton. They make sure all the cotton they use is grown without any toxic chemicals or modified seeds. Additionally, they push for the use of recycled cotton, which positively affects the landfills and saves water and energy.
Gucci devoted their brand towards making sure the energy they use is 100% renewable. They push for sustainable or low-impact alternative materials, as well as optimizing manufacturing efficiencies. While all that takes place, Gucci makes sure to not just keep but improve their caring and sustainable working environment.
Patagonia is pushing with its ambitious goals constantly. The brand aims to be carbon neutral in just three more years (by 2025). They also push for an increase in the usage of recycled materials, plus the source of the energy they use should come from 100% renewable sources.
H&M is changing its mindset on each stage of production. Knowing what happens with each garment at the end of the cycle is as important as how it was created at the beginning of it. The circular economy is becoming H&M’s main focus. Plus, putting transparency and customer education as an important process stage, they want customers to be confident that sustainable and responsible decisions were made every step of the way.
Inditex is following a similar approach as well. By 2023, all of its cotton should be sustainable, as well as cellulosic fibers. Polyester and linen should follow the same route by 2025. Inditex also finances many agricultural projects, promoting ecological techniques and seed stock development perfect for organic farming.
The Pearl Source has taken a slightly different approach and it assists nonprofit organizations dealing in women’s issues with a percentage of their sales of pearl jewels.
Putting in different numbers, the fashion industry processes emit more annual CO2 emissions than all maritime shipping and international flights combined. And that is why choosing from where we buy our next garment and demanding reforms should become a default option. The idea should be for many of these changes to make clothing production more sustainable, an initiative that should be implemented by not just manufacturers but big companies as well. And if they do not drive those transformations, consumers should become the main drivers.