The textile industry is debatably the second most polluting factor behind oil. When so many people purchasing clothes more often than a couple of decades ago there has been a huge concern on how ethical the clothes are being made, and it could be causing a huge problem.
Some major fashion labels are looking to change that. H&M and the company that runs Lee, Vans, Timberland, and The North Face are trying to force a change in the multimillion market. They say the push against this major challenge comes from the companies and not the consumers or regulators. This means learning about the importance of sustainable fashion is a big part of the job now.
“We want to make fashion sustainable and sustainability fashionable,” H&M Group’s Vanessa Rothschild told a reporter at a side event at the UN climate conference in Bonn, Germany.
Elin Larsson, from Swedish company Filippa K, says they’re slowly starting to see a move toward values-based consumption as more and more consumers are starting to question where their clothing is coming from.
Ways companies are trying to reduce pollution is by energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy. A big part of what the companies are trying to do is wanting to move towards a source of more sustainable fabrics and even encourage better agricultural practices.
As of right now, to make around one kilogram of cotton fabric it takes 3000 liters of water and one kilogram of chemicals. While doing so it also produces 16 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions and half a kilogram of other harmful waste.
American company VF international, the big corporation in charge of 25 of the biggest brands, buys about one percent of the world’s cotton.
Because of this sole reason, agriculture is one of the central topics on the green plan for some of its brands like Timberland, who is looking to only use sustainably farmed cotton by 2020. VF and H&M are also investing into innovation. Their sustainability directors both learned during a panel of discussion that they were looking into new technology. The new technology they are looking into would create fabrics from carbon dioxide emissions or would get rid of carbon dioxide emissions in the air.
“Can you believe that we’re able to actually make products out of CO2 emissions? It’s very exciting!” VF’s Anna Maria Rugarli said.
Enrica Arena, the creator of a startup which has come up with a way to turn orange peels and pith from juice factories fabrics, has teamed up with Salvatore Ferragamo and she says that every week a new big label brand wants to work with them.
Even with new ways to create a greener earth the big named companies still say it is expensive in order to act responsibly and sustainably.
“In order to create the change we want to see, it needs to be more expensive to make the bad choices because that’s not the case today.” Larsson said.
“We need the support from politicians … because we cannot count on frontrunners for sustainability in business or voluntary actions to create the change.”
“Fashion will be disrupted as well soon by those companies … who really combine social, environmental and ethical terms into their operations to produce goods that don’t only sell for a good profit but are good for the planet,” Alexander Meyer zum Felde said, a sustainability expert with the Boston Consulting Group.
Zum Felde believes that fashion industries are moving in the right direction but they need to do more. He warns that fashion is a prime candidate for digital disruption, following the major changes happening to the energy, automotive, and chemical industries.