The fashion and textiles industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world.
"Every stage in a garment’s life threatens our planet and its resources. It can take more than 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton, equivalent to a single t-shirt and pair of jeans. Up to 8,000 different chemicals are used to turn raw materials into clothes, including a range of dyeing and finishing processes.” The Business of Fashion
To produce fabrics a lot of water and chemicals are used, this water is not always filtered when it is poured back into the environment. This causes rivers, lakes and land to be flooded with chemicals that can be very harmful to the environment, to animals and to humans. In conventional cotton production, a lot of water is also used together with chemical fertilizers that heavily pollute the soil and groundwater.
What can we do?
A lot, actually. We will name a few small steps, that will make a big difference;
✔ Shift from conventional cotton to organic cotton results in less water use in the growth of the cotton crops. Natural chemicals are used as pesticides instead of harsh chemicals.
✔ Choose fibres with low water consumption such as linen, bamboo and recycled fibres.
✔ Source materials that are certified by GOTS. With GOTS the entire production process is monitored to live up to their standards. The raw materials need to be at least 70% certified organic and the manufacturing needs to live up to environmental and social criteria.
✔ Check that your supplier only uses chemicals that are according to REACH regulation. This EU regulation lists restricted chemicals that are harmful to both human health and the environment.
Small steps can lead to big changes in impact. Sustainability in fashion is about finding the negative impact of a manufacturing process and shifting from a negative impact into a positive one.
Do you have questions about how you can find negative impact and change this to positive impact within your supply chain? Write them in our comments below or contact us. Do you like this post? Did you see mistakes? Let us know! Do you want to stay informed? Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of this page or follow us on Instagram.