The link between the clothes we wear each day and the systematic destruction of the environment is often overlooked. However, our fashion choices can have a massive impact on the world around us – and sadly, that impact is, all too often, far from positive. Many uncomfortable truths about the everyday materials used to produce our clothing do not receive as much attention as they should.
Cotton, for example, is one of the most commonly-used – and most environmentally destructive – fabrics on the planet. The problem lies primarily in the fact that the vast majority of conventionally produced cotton is sprayed with pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and defoliants, which not only damage the health of cotton workers – many of whom labor in extremely unethical conditions – but also remain in the fabric once it has been processed, continuing to be released throughout the life of the garment. Fibre 2 Fashion (F2F) estimates that the growing of cotton accounts for 22.5 percent of all insecticides used globally and that the production of a single T-shirt requires 257 gallons of water.
Rayon (also known as viscose) is made from wood pulp. Old growth forest is often cleared to make way for pulpwood plantations, on which the tree of choice is often eucalyptus, which consumes large amounts of water. F2F further explained: “To make rayon, the wood pulp is treated with hazardous chemicals such as caustic soda and sulphuric acid. The use of rayon for clothing is contributing to the rapid depletion of the world’s forests. Petroleum-based products are detrimental to the environment on many levels.”
Adding insult to injury, in 2011, ecologist Mark Browne discovered that a single piece of clothing made from synthetic materials (such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic) releases a whopping 1,900 microfibers each time it is washed … and these tiny plastic fibers end up leaking into sewage systems or local waterways, before eventually finding their way to the ocean. They pose a serious threat to the marine animals who end up ingesting them – it has been estimated that up to seven hundred species could go extinct because of plastic pollution.
Oh and did we mention, the textile industry as a whole is the second worst polluter of water, after the agriculture industry. Yeah, you’re probably rethinking that shirt wearing right about now…
However, the good news is that a growing number of companies are choosing to produce only clothes made to high ethical standards. The Global Leadership Award in Sustainable Apparel (GLASA), launched in 2013 by the Sustainable Fashion Academy, aims to acknowledge the work of these clothing companies.
And now, conscious fashion destination Zady has stepped up to the mark with their campaign, The New Standard.
The campaign motto is: “No more fashion that ends in landfills, no more production with questionable roots. From field to garment, we’re re-envisioning the future of fashion.” Using the tag #fashion4climate on social media, it aims to raise awareness of the disturbing truth that: “Our clothing is cheaper than ever, but that lower sticker price comes with enormous environmental and social costs.”
As part of their campaign, the brand has released a series of images illustrating exactly what’s wrong with the clothing industry today.
It makes for some sobering reading material.
This serves as a reminder that we shouldn’t throw our clothes away too quickly…
Needless to say, the fashion industry’s copious emissions of this gas are doing nothing to help the whole planet-threatening climate change scenario.
Tragic but true…
Yet another reason why we all should try to reduce our consumption of plastic!
This fact is truly shocking…
It is vital for us to be careful about where our cotton comes from.
Zady has developed a fresh set of ethical production principles for The New Standard. These include designing clothes for longevity (as opposed to the all-too-common production of garments which fall apart after being worn just a few times), choosing the highest quality fibers with the lowest environmental footprint, and closely monitoring their supply chain to ensure that a low pollution level is maintained “from farm to final factory.”
To get involved in the campaign and demand that the fashion industry improve its environmental standards, sign Zady’s declaration today! You can also click here for an in-depth breakdown of exactly what The New Standard will involve.
What else can you do to help ensure that your fashion choices do not harm the Earth?
- Refer to One Green Planet’s Guide to Buying Sustainable, Fair-Trade and Cruelty-Free Clothing, or our profile of five fantastic eco-conscious kids’ clothing brands which produce high-quality organic clothing, made by workers who have been treated fairly and paid a decent wage.
- The international Clean Clothes Campaign runs a variety of campaigns aimed at improving working conditions in the global textiles industry. Find out how you can get involved here.
- Check out the Garment Worker Center’s pop-up fair trade initiative, Shop With A Heart, which aims to “provide alternatives to mass-produced, sweatshop-made clothing and goods at affordable prices.” You can also get involved with the Center’s work by donating or becoming a volunteer!
- Click here to learn more about the Sustainable Fashion Academy, which is working toward the “vision (of an) apparel industry that creates happier people, stronger communities, and a resilient planet.”
- Check out The Better Cotton Initiative’s Better Cotton Standard System, and learn more about how you can support the organization’s work here.
All image source: Zady