Sustainability in the fashion industry is a huge problem and an even greater challenge. Environmental problems such as carbon emissions, overproduction, water, energy waste and so much more have been so deeply rooted in the industry itself.
So, how best to minimize the huge negative impact the fashion industry has on our planet?
To best answer this question – it will take a village. The real change will come when all the fashion brands and businesses start working together towards making a positive change. Thankfully, the change, however small, has started.
Many small fashion brands are starting to change their ways, change their values, and embrace sustainability and eco-friendliness. Let’s see how fashion brands embrace sustainability these days.
Use of sustainable materials
Most fashion brands that want to become more sustainable and ethical, start by switching from traditional to sustainable materials. And that’s a good starting point.
The production and creation of unsustainable materials such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic directly affect our environment. On top of that, these materials aren’t biodegradable, which means that garments made from these fabrics will most certainly end up in landfills.
To prevent all of this, fashion brands are slowly switching to more eco-friendly fabrics. Fabrics that are renewable, biodegradable, and that don’t pollute the environment.
These types of fabrics include organic cotton, artificial leather, bamboo, linen, wool, industrial hemp, and many other new-gen materials.
While switching to sustainable materials is a good start, it’s, unfortunately, not enough. For a fashion brand to truly embrace sustainability, it needs to change things on all production levels – including manufacturing.
Many manufacturing processes such as fabric dying contribute to the high consumption of water and energy. In addition to that, the ink used for printing onto garments is, in most cases, highly toxic, both to humans and the environment.
But this can be easily solved. If you want your fashion brand to be sustainable, look into non-toxic dyes and inks. As well as dying processes that use much less water and energy.
Switch to sustainable fashion business models
Fast fashion is one of the most unsustainable business models out there. The number of garments produced can never be sold and they ultimately end up in landfills, contributing to pollution. But fashion brands can put a stop to this by switching to a much slower made-to-order business model.
With this model, they’ll only be producing clothing once a customer places an order. Similarly, switching to print-on-demand or custom clothing models is also a good idea.
For this, businesses can use different technology and software that allow them to sustainably create different types of clothing. This way you can sell custom clothing or custom sportswear, print-on-demand clothing or accessories, and so on.
Packaging is yet another huge pollutant. Thankfully, this too, can be solved by simply replacing unsustainable packaging with eco-friendly packaging. If every fashion brand did this, the impact the fashion industry has on our planet would be significantly mitigated.
Up until now, no one really thought about how packaging impacts the environment. Today, more and more brands are switching to recyclable or reusable packaging options. This is slowly minimizing the use of plastic bags, and other unsustainable packaging materials.
A good place to start your sustainability journey is by choosing packaging that is made from plant-based materials that are easily broken down at the end of their lifespan.
Hand in hand with packaging goes transportation. With the rise of online and retail shopping, delivery transport has gained popularity. But unfortunately, at the cost of our environment.
It’s well known that freight transport is one of the major contributors to pollution and carbon emissions. To put a stop to or significantly reduce this sort of pollution, fashion brands are slowly investing in more efficient ways of transportation.
We see more and more eco-friendly vehicles such as electric vehicles. In addition to that, alternative fuel sources are also becoming a trend for most fashion businesses. Fuels such as hydrogen, natural gas, propane, ethanol, methanol, butanol, and even vegetable oils.
Transparent and fair working conditions
What you might not know is that the fashion industry is notorious for its mistreatment of laborers. Working conditions in the supply chain are inadequate and wages are unfair. But things are changing in that department too.
A growing number of fashion brands are working on improving working conditions. Basic human rights, fair wages, and a safe working environment are now guaranteed, even though there is still space for improvement.
It will take quite a bit of time for everyone to realize how important sustainability is in today’s world. Choosing sustainable and ethical practices is a huge step. On top of that, transitioning to sustainability is not cheap either.
However, taking small steps toward a more sustainable fashion industry is possible. As a fashion brand, you can make those small steps by choosing to use sustainable materials, non-toxic inks, eco-friendly packaging, and so on.