You, as a consumer have the power to make a positive change in the world. By choosing the right products and making conscious decisions about what you consume, you can influence how the fashion industry works.
Your shopping habits influence what the industry offers. By choosing unsustainable clothes, not caring about where they come from, who made them, or what is in them, you give the industry a signal that you are OK with that, and they can produce more of the same. On the other hand, if you demand sustainable products that are not produced at the expense of the environment and people, companies will adapt, and more will join the sustainable fashion revolution.
Fashion is the second most polluting industry
Fashion carbon footprint is tremendous. Fast fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world, right after the oil industry. It affects our planet and its resources in every stage of making clothes — from farming, through textile and clothes production, all the way to the final destination – landfills. The textile and fashion industry is over-exploiting natural resources like plants and water. The pesticides used by farmers to protect yield, and chemicals used to bleach and color textiles can harm the environment and people’s health.
Did you know that it can take more than 20,000 liters of water to make cotton for one T-shirt or one pair of jeans, or that up to 8,000 different chemicals are used to turn raw materials into clothes? And the environmental impact doesn’t stop when clothes are finally made. The scraps from the production of clothes and the enormous quantities of clothes consumers throw away when they don’t need them anymore end up in landfills.
There is another aspect of unsustainability in fashion. Seeking the cheapest possible production in such a labor-intensive industry as the textile and clothing industry has forced many fashion brands to outsource a lot of production to developing countries with lower working condition standards. When safety standards are being neglected, accidents happen. Like the one in Rana Plaza in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013, when 1,134 people were killed during a building collapse.
That event awakened the international community to raise their voices to try to make a fashion an industry which values people, the environment, creativity, and profits in equal measure. April 24th has been declared Fashion Revolution Day, a week before the Fashion Revolution Week, with the aim to bring together people around the world and raise awareness of the true cost of fashion, show that change is possible, and celebrate those involved in creating a more sustainable future.
To change fashion, you need transparency
Fashion revolution can start with transparency. Look deep into final products and materials in them, ask who made them, how they were made, what’s their environmental and social burden. Ask questions that span the entire lifecycle of your clothes – from raw materials and production to the end of their lifecycle.
The problem is that fashion brands don’t always know the answer. The environmental and social impact of the fashion item during its whole life is not visible in the final product, and it’s easy to lose track of it in a long and complex supply chain. The Fashion Revolution initiative found out that many big fashion brands didn’t even know which factories produced their products, even less knew about materials further down the supply chain.
There is a sustainable way to make nylon
We can’t claim this for all materials used in the fashion industry, but we can show you that one of them – nylon – can be made in a sustainable way. It’s called ECONYL® yarn. Its story began in 2007 with Aquafil’s firm decision to make a sustainable nylon yarn, completely from waste.
ECONYL® yarn is a 100% regenerated nylon, made from waste materials, such as fishing nets, discarded carpets and other waste, and can be recycled indefinitely without losing its original properties. Producing nylon from waste instead from oil brings many environmental benefits; measured in CO2 emissions, it saves 100,000 tons CO2 a year.
There are also other benefits, created in partnerships. By reclaiming carpets, which would otherwise be discarded, we divert waste from landfills, and by reclaiming ghost fishing nets we, with our initiative Healthy Seas, help clean oceans and save marine life. We partnered with Speedo to create a pilot take-back program, the first of its kind for the swimwear industry. This partnership enables fabric scraps left over from the swimsuit production process to be upcycled into 100% regenerated ECONYL® fiber instead of just becoming waste.
Many players in fashion industry, big and small brands, are already working hard to become sustainable. We are proud that many have chosen ECONYL® yarn as a fabric in their clothes, and we are happy to show them how we make ECONYL® yarn.
Choose smart, choose sustainable
As a consumer, you have a choice: you can choose cheap fast fashion, knowing it was made with huge environmental and social burden, or you can choose sustainable brands, which care about those issues and are able to show you how their products are made. Be curious, check labels, look for materials used, check their websites for sustainability practices, and ask them questions about how their clothes are made.
If you’re looking for a sustainable fabric, you can be sure ECONYL® nylon yarn is a good choice.