The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world and is responsible for 10% of all carbon emissions globally. Consider that in conjunction with the fact that 80 billion garments are produced globally each year and that three out of four garments will end up in landfills or be incinerated after a pretty short sprint of appreciation, according to a Greenpeace report.
Not only does the mass production of cheap apparel clog our landfills (we produced enough clothing – over 150 billion garments, to be precise – to provide every single person on the planet with 20 brand new items in 2010 alone), the energy spent by countries who produce our clothes, who generally rely on coal power, and the oil-based polyester materials more popularly used means that the fashion industry is no longer sustainable. In fact, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that our penchant for cheap clothes is pretty much destroying the planet.
But before we all start fashioning our outerwear out of old sacks and pieces of string, there is – thankfully – some encouraging news to come out of all this. In a bid to bring eco-friendly fashion to the forefront of our collective consciousness, some of the world’s major companies are finally taking some strides towards making fashion a little more sustainable and eco-friendly. And hopefully, once the big guns start taking it seriously, a ripple of influence and accountability should follow throughout the industry.
The sportswear giant teamed up with Parley for the Oceans, a social movement dedicated to reducing waste in our ecosystem, for their latest line of sneakers. They may look like any other pair of trainers, but 95% of the Ultra Boost Uncaged Parley is made from recycled plastic found floating around the Maldives, while the remaining 5% has been constructed out of recycled PET. Adidas want to make 1 million pairs of shoes using Parlay Ocean Plastic in 2017 (the equivalent of 11 million water bottles), with the long-term goal of completely eliminating virgin plastic in their production.
Surf brand Volcom are also doing their bit to rid our oceans of debris. They’ve teamed up with Italian yarn maker Aquafil to turn discarded plastic bags, bottles and even abandoned fishing nets into a range of women’s swimwear. The collection – named Simply Solid – will consist of 78% of recycled materials like ocean fishing nets.
The LA based label is leading the charge when it comes to creating affordable, sustainable clothing that doesn’t compromise on style. Bucking the cost-driven trend of offshore production, each garment bought through the ecommerce store can be sent back for repurposing and its impact is clearly stated next to the garment information on their website via their RefScale, which measures the carbon dioxide levels, the amount of water and waste that went into producing the garment. Even the packaging is made from 100% recycled materials.
Maria Erixsson, the founder of Nudie Jeans, wants your jeans to last you for life. In fact, the Swedish denim label is so passionate about sustainable consumption that they’ll repair your jeans for free in a bid to reduce their production needs – a service they’ve offered since 2010. They repaired 21,331 pairs in their dedicated repair shops last year, but they’ll post you out a repair kit for free if there isn’t a store local to you.
OK, just hear us out. Sure, H&M is one of the largest providers of fast fashion in the world. However, unlike their cheap clothing counterparts, they’ve actually made great strides in reducing their carbon footprint. According to their 2015 sustainability report, 78% of the energy they use is now renewable (compared to 27% the year previously). H&M also pride themselves on their Conscious range, which is touted as affordable, eco-friendly fashion. What’s more, the Swedes have made over 1 million items of clothing out of recycled cotton from their garment-collecting initiative, where – regardless of the brand – you can drop off your unwanted threads to any of their 3,600 stores to be recycled.