While the world shifts towards sustainability and environmental awareness, the fashion industry is no exception. With an influx of classic, luxury brands pledging to go fur-free, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the industry follows suit. With the rapid development of the Internet and social media, the demand for fast-fashion has become a growing problem.
In addition to activists applying pressure not only on brands exercising cruelty towards employees and animals, they’re now also addressing the strain production puts on the environment. The waste that results from fast-fashion is a major problem. Let me explain. Fast-fashion equates to cheaply made clothing which in turn means a shorter shelf-life.
Trying to meet the quickly evolving demand of consumers is literally destroying our planet.
Synthetic fibers can take hundreds to thousands of years to biodegrade. An important fact, the use of natural fibers does not always mean a product is sustainably made. As Newsweek points out in a 2016 article, natural fibers don’t always remain natural during production. In fact, in 2012 84% of unwanted clothes in the US went to a landfill or incinerator, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Power plants are attempting to lighten the strain by burning defective products to help create energy, but with large retailers such as H&M housing $4.3 billion in unsold clothes, that’s not nearly enough (source: NY Times). Many brands like H&M now offer sustainable collections and recycling programs to consumers. The Business of Fashion has also released 7 Priorities to help reverse and prevent furthering the environmental crisis, which aims to educate CEO’s in the fashion industry on where they should focus their attention.
(Image courtesy of H&M’s website)
The Business of Fashion’s 7 Priorities
The 3 set for immediate implementation:
1. Supply Chain Traceability
2. Efficient Use of Water, Energy, and Chemicals
3. Respectful and Secure Work Environments
The 4 remaining are categorized as transformational priorities for fundamental change:
4. Sustainable Material Mix
5. Closed-Loop Fashion System
6. Promotion of Better Wage Systems
7. Fourth Industrial Revolution
Though the current state of things may not be ideal, with a conscious and well-educated fashion community, the future doesn’t have to mirror our careless past.