Do you know how much your favorite pair of jeans costs the environment?
What about the clothes you don't wear?
These questions are certainly on the minds of Lululemon executives. They know how apparel manufacturing affects the Earth's climate, and are launching a resale program this Earth Day, reselling worn garments at a discounted price. By reducing unnecessary production and consumption, Lululemon aims to limit its carbon emissions.
Many companies have begun to adopt similar processes as part of the Fashion Revolution, but how will any of this impact the planet or our environment? Read on to find out!
So, What Is the Fashion Revolution?
The fashion revolution is a global movement geared towards:
- Ending global fashion's exploitation of humans and the environment
- Working conditions that are safe, dignified, and pay living wages for everyone in the supply chain
- Equally distributing power across the global fashion industry
- Making global fashion labor movements larger and stronger
- Conserving and regenerating ecosystems that contain key components for the global fashion industry
- Maintaining a culture of transparency and accountability across the value chain
- Shifting from throwaway culture to a system that uses materials for longer and wastes less
- Recognizing and valuing heritage, craftsmanship, and local wisdom
How Does Fast Fashion Affect The Environment?
In the eco-conscious fashion scene, the term 'fast fashion' has become a common buzzword. “Fast fashion” refers to low-quality clothes rapidly produced to copy current catwalk trends to make a quick buck.
As you might imagine, Fast Fashion has a ton of negative impacts on many environmental elements, including:
Fast fashion impacts the environment by depleting non-renewable resources, emitting greenhouse gases, and using massive amounts of energy and water. One cotton shirt requires 700 gallons of water to produce, while a pair of jeans requires 2 000 gallons. Textile dyeing is also one of the world's biggest polluters of water because the leftover dyeing water is often dumped into local ditches and streams.
Synthetic fibers like polyester, nylon and acrylic takes hundreds of years to decompose. Approximately 35% of microplastics - tiny pieces of non-biodegradable plastic - found in the ocean come from washing synthetic textiles such as polyester, according to a 2017 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Globally, 80 billion pieces of clothing are consumed every year — 400% more than twenty years ago, according to the 2015 documentary The True Cost. Each year, Americans generate an average of 82 pounds of textile waste.
To raise livestock, leather producers need a great deal of land, feed, fossil fuels, and water. Tanning is also one of the most toxic processes in the fashion supply chain because the chemicals used to tan leather (formaldehyde, mineral salts, coal-tar derivatives, and various dyes and oils) aren’t biodegradable.
Plastic fibers are made into textiles using an energy-intensive process that releases volatile particulates and acids, such as hydrogen chloride. Additionally, modern cotton is not an environmentally friendly material to manufacture, which is present in a large number of fast fashion products. Farmers themselves are at risk from pesticides deemed necessary for modern cotton growth.
Wild silk, organic cotton, linen, hemp, lyocell, and other sustainable fabrics can be used to counteract fast fashion waste.
6 Ways Supporting the Fashion Revolution Can Help the Environment
1. Environmentally Friendly Fashion Means Fewer Chemicals
Stores that support the fashion revolution promote fashion longevity instead of trends. When you choose durable, high-quality items - aka slow fashion - you reduce the number of chemicals and waste produced. Due to the use of chemicals and waste during manufacturing, clothing that pushes trends force consumers to buy more at a rapid pace, which can be harmful to the environment by creating irresponsible supply chains, and create more global clothing waste.
2. Clothing Made From Quality Materials Lasts Longer
A well-made piece of clothing will last for a very long time. When you love and look fabulous in the items you wear, washing and wearing them again isn't a problem. In the end, you'll buy fewer items less frequently, if you have stylish, high-quality, durable outfits.
Thus, less waste will be generated by thrown away clothing items that have faded colors, tears, or rips on the fabric, or are simply worn out. Wearing well-made clothing, such as a swimsuit or a black dress, will benefit the environment in the long run.
3. Reduced Upkeep Saves Water And Energy
One advantage of top-quality apparel is it doesn’t necessarily need to be washed after every single wear. Depending on what you're wearing, you might get away with only spot cleaning your jeans or capris more than once before you need to completely wash them.
Choosing clothing with quality fabrics and designs keeps the clothing looking fresh and fabulous, so you don't have to wash, dry, and iron your favorite items as often - saving you time and energy.
4. High Quality Clothes Have A Longer “Thrift Lifespan”
When it comes to fashion, donating clothing to your favorite charities and thrift stores is a great way to help save the planet.
When you're ready to say goodbye to that clothing, you can give it a second life by donating that better-quality piece you would get from these stores. By not throwing these clothes away, it also reduces overall clothing waste.
By more people adopting this trend, it also makes good styles more accessible to people who can’t afford the cutting edge in fashion. Win-win for everyone!
5. Eco-Friendly Fashion Brands Aren’t Shy to Use Their Voice for the Cause
The number of high-quality brands making environmental commitments is on the rise. Buying products from an eco-friendly brand like Land's End ensures that you are supporting a company that cares about the environment. These companies often donate money to conservatory movements, if not creating them themselves.
It's easy to tell upfront what a reliable clothing company stands for when it comes to the environment, so you know what it stands for.
6. You Spend Less Money Long Term
The cost of quality clothing may be slightly higher than that of poorly made apparel, but in the long run, you will be saving money because your clothes will remain in great condition for many years to come.
You can save money AND protect the world's resources by updating your wardrobe every season. The purchase of well-made fashion is another way to contribute to a good cause that helps the environment.
How Has The Fashion Revolution Impacted The World?
Globally, people in the Fashion Revolution have used their voices and buying power to tell the world that things must change. The strategy is working. The industry is changing. There is a growing trend among brands to disclose where their clothes are made and how their materials affect the environment.
So, How Can We Help The Planet By Joining The Fashion Revolution?
We can save water and raw materials by being more conscious about our clothes. By reducing our use of fossil fuels and keeping chemicals and pesticides out of rivers, soil, and wildlife, we can protect all of them. The textile industry is one of the largest polluters on our planet, but we can reduce its impact together through conscious consumption.