The fashion industry contributes an average of 4% of the annual global carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. As we all know, the conversations going on about the industry’s sustainability levels are layered with environmental, animal, social, political and economic issues; and although many fast fashion giants are pretending as if it’s not the case, every garment has a story, a cost and an impact.
Partly, we can blame fashion companies and their trend cycles for customer’s constant need to buy new products. But the truth is, that it should not just be up to the individual businesses to set a standard, but international legislation needs to address unit volume production and employee protection, in order for the fashion processes to slow down and have a more positive impact.
This week, we’ve put together a few ways technology is slowly revolutionising the fashion industry and starting making a positive impact.
1. Eco fibres
The rise of fast fashion means a huge increase of the consumption of raw materials, with 70 million trees logged every year and turned into the most used fabrics in fashion like rayon, viscose and modal. But some companies have found ways to lessen the need for new materials by using waste products from other industries to create innovative new fabrics. For example, Orange Fiber creates their sustainable textiles from citrus juice byproducts – 700,000 tons of which are otherwise discarded in Italy alone! Just like Orange Fiber, there’s plenty more companies experimenting and producing materials from discarded waste (and we’ll go into more details about this very soon!)
2. Less washing and less waste
A third of garments produced globally end up discarded and wasted in landfills, having a damaging effect on the environment. There’s fabrics in development that could drastically cut fashion waste: a few companies are experimenting in creating a textile that has strong antimicrobial and liquid-repelling properties, making it okay to be worn 20 times before needing to be laundered. The result? We wouldn’t need to wash as much as we do now, therefore ensuring the garment lasts longer.
3. Reducing chemicals
Cotton is the world's most pesticide-consuming crop. But maybe, instead of using this highly chemical textile, we could make new textiles out of milk proteins, which don't need chemicals and even moisturise your skin.
4. Human rights
As we all know, the diamond industry involves bloodshed, conflict and corruption. In order to escape this diamond and human rights war, the San Francisco-based Diamond Foundry cultivates beautiful real diamonds above ground in a solar-powered laboratory, meaning there’s guaranteed impeccable provenance of each stone and zero carbon footprint too. Furthermore, there are also lab grown diamonds, such as the ones from start up Armure Jewelery who grows most of their diamonds in a laboratory setting that emulates the natural process of a diamond's growth.
5. Avoiding waste
Each year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean, and it’s predicted that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the sea. The brand Patagonia is currently collaborating with Samsung in order to create a washing machine to avoid the spread of microplastics in our oceans, our food and our fish. This machine’s wash cycle, according to Samsung, uses a bubble generator to make the water dissolve the detergent and produce a soapy foam that cleans clothes with a minimal amount of abrasion, which is what causes shedding. It also has a microfibre-catching filter that works with other compatible Samsung washers and apparently, it is set to cut microplastic emissions by up to 54%.
Another way to tackle microplastics waste is an easier type of technology: the Guppy Bag. This bag is used to wash textiles in the washing machine and It reduces fibre shedding and protects our clothes as well as filtering the microfibres that do break and doesn’t lose any fibres itself.
6. Making new clothes from old ones
Over 26 billion pounds of clothing gets thrown aways and ends up in landfills each year. What if we were able to eliminate textile waste from the fashion industry and reduce the need for virgin resources and dye usage by nearly 100%? There are already companies out there who do just that by upcycling old yarns and fabrics. For example, the startup Humanity Center Designs have launched their prototypes and innovative Textile materials in 2021, HCD-Tex™, as well as developing their own yarn, fabric and apparel from waste that makes fabric & fashion more ethical and good for the planet, such as recycled PET fabrics developed from plastic bottles.
For the sake of our planet and future, it’s becoming more and more important to make changes to the industry and as many sustainability experts already mentioned, there’s no way we can do this alone without new government legislations that put in place a more rigorous supply chain for every fashion company out there.
[information sourced on medium.com and artsandculture.google.com
All images sourced on canva.com]