Adjusting our Attitude in August
Fashioning a Sustainable Trend in Conscious Consumer Clothing
Environmentally Smart Movement – Buy less, choose well, make it last!!!
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. “– Chief Seattle, 1854
This month we are taking a serious look at lifestyle and how it is affecting the quality of life all around us.
As Max Lerner said “In our rich consumers’ civilization we spin cocoons around ourselves and get possessed by our possessions.”
How does our thread of life and the garments we wear weave into the fabric of all life?
For decades the prevailing trend has been fast fashion. Thus, creating a “throw away” culture of consumers conditioned to see clothing as single-use disposable per season.
Just because the landfill isn’t in our backyard is no excuse to be blinded by the effects of careless consumerism. Our choices directly affect the world we live in, this we can no longer ignore.
A billion dollar industry and the second most polluting business after oil, fashion has a direct impact on the environment.
The processing of raw materials required for textiles and the vast amounts of water used (2,700 litres per single t-shirt) contributes to the emission of greenhouse gasses which are causing climate change.
The arrival of fast fashion and the massive increase in number of clothes that we are buying (and quickly discarding) means that this impact is only getting greater.
The enormous environmental damage inflicted by these corporations and the ongoing exploitation of a disadvantaged workforce is referred to as the true, hidden cost of fast fashion (or the negative economic externalities of fast fashion).
Understanding the implications of fast fashion methods and business practices leads to the realization that we’re in a dire need of a systemic change to fix the broken industry and to embrace a more sustainable alternative.
Did you know, there are different factors causing different types of environmental effects to fashion manufacturing?
- About 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions are produced by the fashion industry.
- Using a washing machine on our clothes takes a lot water – for example 3781 litres are used to wash a pair of jeans over its lifetime.
released in the wash
- Around 700,000 fibres are released in a domestic wash, which flow into the sea and then fish eat these synthetic fibres.
- People are buying twice as many items of clothing as they did a decade ago. In 2012 84% of all clothing bought in America ended up in landfills.
As a result discarded clothes are piling up in landfill sites around the globe. – At least 235 Million items of clothing are sent to landfills each year and the number increases everyday.
“Three in five garments end in landfill or incinerators within a year – that’s expensive fuel! Half a million tonnes of microfibres a year enter the ocean,” says Environmental Audit Committee chairwoman Mary Creagh. The dyes, chemical and manufactured fabrics seep into the soils in landfills or enter the air if they are incinerated [A1] .
“The best number we have now is about five percent of [global] greenhouse gas emissions [come from] this sector. To give you some sense of perspective, that’s about equivalent to the impact from the aviation sector, so all the planes flying in the world.”[A1]
How do we create a season of environmentally friendly fashion?
Slow fashion is an antidote to pure consumerism and a viable blueprint for introducing a systemic change to the otherwise broken industry.
It’s also a promise of original and beautiful, high-quality fashion to enjoy in a responsible and sustainable way.
The newdresscode.com explains slow fashion as:
“Slow fashion is a conscious effort to move away from the excessive consumerism encouraged by the fast fashion industry through changing consumer behavior and forcing the industry to embrace sustainability and to produce high-quality fashion.
Unlike fast fashion, the primary focus of slow fashion is a continued commitment to creating fewer collections per calendar year with pieces made from high-quality materials that lengthen the life of the garment.
Slow fashion is founded on the principles of conscious consumerism, environmental sustainability, and transparency, with design and production methods upholding high ethical standards.”
A set of principles that aim to improve how we engage with fashion on multiple levels in order to create a balanced and sustainable industry with a healthy product lifecycle.
Specifically, slow fashion aims to transform our approach to:
- Fashion creation » by promoting originality, diversity, and thoughtfulness
- Fashion production » by employing artisans and sustainable manufacturing
- Fashion distribution » by serving local markets and utilizing lean supply chains
- Fashion consumption » by releasing long-lasting products and promoting conscious consumerism
- Fashion end life and disposal » by utilizing a high percentage of natural, compostable fibers
The aim of slow fashion is to produce high-quality apparel (products with high intrinsic value), at a fair cost. Note, that the term “cost” here encompasses both meanings: the actual product price as well as the environmental and socioeconomic costs, restoring traditional values.
Why is slow fashion so important to sustainable and environmentally conscious living?
Unless we curtail overconsumption and reestablish a symmetrical relationship with the ecosystem, we’re on a collision course with an impending environmental disaster.
The air we breathe, the water we drink are affected ever second by what we choose to wear. What is more important? Air and water or the seasons latest trend at a cheap consumer price with costs beyond belief to the environment and the two things we need most in life….air and water.
There are many alarming statistics and projections to support this view:
- 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record in nearly 140 years
- By 2030, half the world’s population could be living in areas where there isn’t enough drinking water
- We’re expected to start running out of resources, such as oil and natural gas in approx. 50 years
- By 2050 there could be more plastic in the ocean than there is fish
- 30% to 50% of wildlife species could be extinct by 2050 due to human activity
- Estimated 17% to 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile dyeing and fabrics finishing treatment
Mindfulness and discipline are at the center of conscious consumerism cautioning against impulsive spending on poor quality clothing, shoes, and accessories.
When buying something meaningful, you connect with it and appreciate your purchase for a longer time. Slow fashion helps to develop a unique, personal style of empowerment and escape from the allure of following commercial fashion trends.
Each of us have the opportunity to create our own style and part of a positive, transformative movement that supports brands and designers with an environmental focus, pay fair wages, and produce genuine fashion products that are meant to last.
To incorporate sustainability into personal style it begins by assuming the role of an active and conscious consumer. Join Warm Heart’s August’s Attitude of becoming a conscious consumer. Take a look at the leaders in conscious clothing.
Companies creating opportunities for the conscious consumers
Retro Vintage is a company who takes vintage clothes and uses the fabrics to construct and create pieces for current fashion trends and styles from already created fabrics upcycling fashion from the past to the present and future fashion.
A founder of ethical fashion is Patagonia, a premiere outdoor apparel company.
A company with a guarantee to repair any purchase. If the garment is beyond repair they recycle the piece and create something new!
A leader in sustainable fashion they have been recycling plastic since 1993 to create fleece for shorts, pants and jackets.
Lyme Terrace a UK company combines recycling plastic bottles and upcycling cotton to create eco-minded materials and collections.
Good Krama a Cambodia based company goes to all the factories and buys the discarded pieces of fabrics and creates garments from pieces that otherwise would end up in a landfill. Upcycling and reusing to create consciously.
Ruby Moon creates activewear and swimwear from fishing nets and plastic bottles. They also receive their products back from their consumers and give the consumer a discount for recycling towards a future product. Working to ensure their products do not end up in landfills but are properly upcycled and recycled.
Zero waste Daniel a designer from New York creates all pieces
from 100% scrap materials. Producing a distinctive sleek patchwork of basics
and custom-made pieces.
Re/Done a downtown LA company utilizing water conservation and abstaining from chemical use takes vintage denim and repurposes and upcycles to a current fit.
Striving to seal the stories of history in the original thread of the seams and fabric holes of history.
Ecoalf goes to sea and cleans the trash from the water and creates fabrics for fashion.
Food for thought of fashion
A leather-like material is being made from coconut water, Malai.
Malai is harvested, redefined, air dried and combined with other plant-based materials to create a new friendly textile. Pineapple husks are also being transformed to textiles. Hemp is one of the strongest and durable fabrics created.
This is precisely what Circular Systems is doing. The new materials science company was recently awarded a $350,000 grant in the form of a Global Change Award by the H&M Foundation for its work in transforming food waste fibers into usable fabrics.
The idea is brilliant and dead-simple. There is a ton of food crop waste globally, an estimated 250 million tons from the byproducts of five key food crops — bananas peels and stalks, pineapple leaves, flax and hemp stalks, and crushed sugar cane.
Using Circular Systems’ new technology, this waste can be turned into fabric. The developed technology is called Orbital, and it offers a way of blending food crop waste fibers with textile waste fibers, turning it into a “durable and moisture wicking” new yarn
Around a billion tonnes of banana plant stems are wasted each year, despite research indicating that it would only take 37kg of stems to produce a kilogram of fibre.
In 2012, the Philippine Textile Research Institute concluded that banana plantations in the Philippines alone can generate over 300,000 tonnes of fibre.
Eco-textile company Offset Warehouse recognises the
banana’s potential and currently partners with an NGO in Nepal to ensure banana
fabric production supports the artisan sector by relying on local skills, and
that workers are paid fairly and operate in safe conditions.
The fabric is claimed to be nearly carbon neutral and its soft texture has been likened to hemp and bamboo. The material is perfect for jackets, skirts and trousers.
Frustrated by the heavy use of chemicals in the leather tanning
process, Carmen Hijosa, founder of Ananas Anam, developed Piñatex as an
alternative to it and petroleum-based textiles.
“The greatest thing about Piñatex is probably that it’s made of
leaf fibres … a byproduct of the pineapple harvest,” says Jaume Granja, a
member of the Ananas Anam team, referring to the fact leaves are usually left
to rot in the ground. “Our leaves do not need any additional land, water or
fertilisers to grow.”
Making the material also brings benefits to the farming communities. The industrial process used to create Piñatex produces biomass, which can be converted into a fertiliser that farmers can spread into their soil to grow the next pineapple harvest.
The material, which has similar appearance to canvas, is also biodegradable; Hijosa and her colleagues are working on a way to ensure that the coating is sustainable and toxic-free.
It’s likely to be some time before the material (note: Piñatex is different from piña, where fibres are combined with silk or polyester) will be found in shops, but initial prototypes show that, just like leather, it can be used to manufacture goods including shoes and handbags.
The wait might be worth it – at £18 per metre, it would be roughly 40% cheaper than good quality leather, which can be priced at around £30.
The Italian company Vegea have been able to combine fashion and wine by creating a material entirely derived from the large Italian winemaking industry, aka Wine Leather.
The biomaterial is obtained by processing the grape marc; that’s the skins, seeds and stems, which are discarded or burned as a means of waste disposal during wine production.
The material is an eco-friendly and cruelty-free alternative that can be applied in fashion and interior and automotive design.
In 2017, Vegea was awarded the H&M Global Change Award, which will fund the continued development and production of the company.
This shows positive progress in the fashion industry through the interest and backing of alternatives to animal and synthetic leather by a fast fashion giant.
Frumat transforms waste from the apple industry into materials that can be used for fashion, footwear, and accessories.
The company uses waste from the apple food industry (specifically the skin) to create a sustainable material that is totally compostable and recyclable–how cool is that?
The end result is a material that not only looks and feels just like leather but also has the durability of leather, showing that a sustainable alternative is totally achievable without compromising on appearance or quality.
The humble coconut palm is often referred to as the ‘tree of life’, but its value goes beyond its meat, milk and water.
The fruit’s husks have fibrous qualities. A thousand coconuts can produce 10kg of fibre, and there’s usually a harvest every 30-45 days.
Outdoor clothing companies Tog 24 and North Face are two brands adopting cocona – a textile operating under the name 37.5 Technology that is produced from a combination of coconut shells and volcanic materials – and becoming less reliant on synthetic materials as a result.
For instance, Tog 24 jacket, Siren, is 55% polyester and 45% cocona. A spokesperson for 37.5 Technology says that the material is a particularly good choice for sportswear as it’s designed to improve performance.
Fibres from husks can also be turned into biowaste-based charcoal to be used by farmers as an organic fertiliser, as has previously happened in the Maldives.
This could help improve soil quality, reduce pesticides and ensure that any coconut inspired fashion supply chain is circular.
Orange Fiber transforms citrus juice byproducts into sustainable textiles while reducing waste and pollution.
With over 700.000 tons of citrus waste produced in Italy every year and no real use of the byproduct within the food industry, Orange Fiber developed an innovative technology to create a sustainable textile.
Co-founders Enrica Arena and Adriana Santanocito recognized the potential of the waste generated by the Sicilian citrus fruit industry and created a new fiber, which they released into the market in 2017.
They receive the citrus waste with the pulp extracted and then use the cellulose fibers to weave sustainable fabrics that are silky to the touch.
Orange Fiber x Ferragamo is the first luxury goods company to collaborate with Orange Fiber on a capsule collection.
This illustrates the growing demand and interest in high-quality sustainable fabrics within the luxury fashion sector.
Futuristic Fashion – Genetically modified Strawberries. Zero waste Lace.
And one for a dystopian future – genetically modified strawberry plants
Designer and researcher Carole Collet, who set up the MA Textile Futures course at Central Saint Martins, has taken a Wonkalian approach to the concept of biomimicry, where nature and technology work in harmony to provide ecologically beneficial solutions.
Her Biolace project imagines a future where plants are mini factories responsible for both food and textile production.
The project focuses on the possibilities of developing systems where plants can be genetically modified.
For instance, a strawberry plant could eventually grow lace from its roots, as well as fruit. The lace could then be used to weave a dress.
A system where clothes could be manufactured using only the
water and sunlight a plant needs to grow, and generating zero waste, would have
big environmental benefits. Are we set to see a world where everyone has an engineered
plant on a windowsill at home ready to meet our needs?
Growing our own textiles may be a nice antidote to fast fashion,
but those slightly disturbed by the thought of it can rest easy. “They are
speculative propositions of what we could do with biotechnology, should we
choose to,” explains Collet. “But we are at least 20 years away from being able
to do so.”
There are many ways to consciously create, it all starts with
the attitude. In August as the fall season line approaches, we invite you to employ
an attitude of mindful slow fashion while weaving your unique wardrobe.
Be a thread that is woven ethically and sustainably with an environmentally conscious attitude.
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