How the fashion industry is trying to fix it’s contribution to climate change



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A topic that has become a heated headline – excuse the pun – is the role of how the fashion industry has become one of the leading contributors to climate change.

The demand for fast fashion has grown drastically within the last 10 years, where consumers feel it is a necessity. Statistics and research, from a report by WWF, inform us how a singular cotton shirt uses more the 2700 litres of water to produce. This means that approximately 15000 litres are used for just one kilogram of cotton

– and this is only one example. If we take a closer look at climate change there are five main issues being addressed in the fashion industry: Water consumption, hazardous chemicals, short lifecycle, waste and agriculture.

But with that being said, we can see how the fashion industry has taken accountability for their actions and how they are implementing innovative ways to produce clothes sustainably – such as using less water, reducing their quantity, using environmentally-friendly materials and avoiding excessive transportation.

Therefore, sustainability should not be classified as another consumer trend that will outdate in the next two years, it should be the future of fashion.

A brand that is sustainable, accounts for the complete lifecycle of a product – from the design, sourcing, production, packaging – and focuses on everything and everyone being effected (externally and internally). This includes not only the production factors but also the environment, the workers and communities where production takes place.

There are a number of brands that are successfully tackling climate change and increasing climate awareness – such as Levi’s, Adidas, Eileen Fisher, Burberry, Ralph

Lauren, H&M Group and the PVH Corporation. All these brands are successfully increasing climate awareness with their innovative approaches.

Levi’s has consciously contributed to investing in renewable and more efficient energy sources. In September, they launched their Autumn/Winter 2019 collection, which included a new approach to materials development. This collection used eco- friendly materials such as cottonised hemp, a cotton blend and rain-fed which they claim use less water and chemicals. It also used a specialised water-efficient finishing process.

Burberry, British fashion house, is a global retailer and manufacturer – with over 10 000 employees. They have set goals that will allow them to procure 100% of its electricity from renewable sources to power the whole business by 2022. Swiftly achieving this, 58% of their total energy is obtained from renewables. In 2012, an independent assessment identified that Burberry’s environmental impact was produced during the production of raw material. Since then, Burberry took the initiative to set goals to source all of its cotton through the Better Cotton Initiative and leather from tanneries which included environmental, traceability and social compliance certificates. Within the last year, the luxury fashion brand has produced garments containing Econyl – nylon made from recycled fishing nets and other waste. In addition, they’ve integrated materials made from volcanic sand, coconut shells and recycled wool and cashmere in their collections.

Swedish fast fashion brand, H&M Group have also committed to 100% renewable power – 90% of their electricity is already sourced from renewables. A key component of the H&M Group’s sustainable business growth is to transition to renewable power and smarter usage of energy. They have already planned to consciously invest in innovative, energy-saving technologies to build stores using 40% less energy than ones constructed today. The H&M group have also, installed LED lighting in new stores and retrofitting and updating heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

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