To many people it comes as a surprise just how dirty the clothing industry is. It is common knowledge, that there is child labour in the supply chain and that factories in Bangladesh and elsewhere occasionally collapse and burry hundreds of workers at a time. The ecological cost of the fashion industry is not as well-known, but accounts for many of the reasons behind the sustainability efforts of responsible fashion brands. Some of them have grown into respectable social businesses over time, others have remained hidden local gems. To pay a tribute to their effort, we will do our best to recruit the smaller shops for our map and show you, how to tell the sustainable businesses apart from mainstream multinationals. This of course will include a crash course of fashion labels and standards.
Why is clothing relevant for the discussion about sustainable consumption?
There is no official rank, but in various reports the clothing industry shows up in the top 10 most polluting industries worldwide. These reports include CO2, water usage and waste production (e.g. pulse of the fashion industry report, 2017). These numbers only include the waste of production, so the overconsumption of clothing (The average number of clothing items bought per person in 2018 in Germany is 59,82 (Statista, 2018); 23% of London's clothes are unworn (TRAID, 2018)) is not included. Furthermore, there is significant neglected ecological damage due to environmental and water pollution (chemicals), plastic fibres (micro plastic) and the well-known social issues, which are not included in these reports. To tackle these issues there are various international organisations, that address one or multiple of these issues. For example, there are labels for organic, e.g. GOTS, and fair trade fashion, e.g. FAIR WEAR, that give consumers some orientation when shopping. The required minimal standards and control mechanisms vary heavily between certifications, so we will discuss competing labels in future posts, as well as discuss the underlying issues more thoroughly.
So, what indicators are there, when you want to consume sustainable fashion? Look for labels addressing the following aspects:
- working conditions/fair trade
- chemicals in finished clothing/test results
- transport/global production/country of origin
- recycling possibilities
- labels and laws
- materials (e.g. organic cotton) /alternative materials (e.g. Tencel)
There are other relevant aspects of sustainable fashion that are not visible to the consumer, like:
- water footprint/groundwater levels
- pesticides (human and environmental damage)
- overproduction/burning of out-of-season clothing
#EcoMap #SustainableConsumption #Change #SustainableClothing #FairTrade #NoChemicals #OrganicCotton
Source: Statista (April 2018). Marktverzeichnis/Bekleidung/Deutschland Retrieved from https://de.statista.com/outlook/90000000/137/bekleidung/deutschland#market-volumePerCapita (German) Traid (2018). 23% of Londoner’s clothes are unworn. Retrieved from https://traid.org.uk/23percent