The world of fashion allows us to express our inner self in a completely natural and often unique way. In this article, however, we will deal, albeit superficially, with a different topic. We will see how a garment affects our lives even before its purchase. Let's look at how the "Big Names" of fashion pushed towards a more "eco" approach.
The trigger was the alarm that first scientists and then environmental groups raised; Our planet is slowly dying. Overwhelmed by waste, exploited and impoverished, it cannot keep up with the pace we are imposing on it. For this reason, some industries are taking steps to stem the damage, including the textile sector. According to the latest studies, the textile industry is among the leading causes of environmental pollution and natural resources exploitation. For instance, one kilo of cotton needs about 11 thousand litres of water. Large quantities of dyes are released into the waters of rivers, seas, and oceans during painting, highly toxic and harmful to both humans and the environment, constituting 20% of world water pollution.
Victim of everchanging trends, fashion is the architect of an unsustainable cycle. Each product is destined to have an ever shorter life, thrown away after few uses it pollutes our ecosystem. In this regard, a study published in the European Parliament Think Tank shows that less than half of used clothes are donated or recycled, and only 1% is recycled. In the attempt to stem the situation, some measures and expedients have been proposed. Among these the slowdown in production, producing less but in a more "eco-friendly" way.
Contrary to what one might think, if everyone adopted this manoeuvre, it would not entail any economic loss for the brands. Following the decrease in production, they would face an increase in demand, thus responding with a rise in prices without affecting the profit. However, it may seem solely for eco-sustainable purposes, the slowdown in production aims to address the post-Covid19 situation that has affected many textile companies. The decrease in production is only one of the manoeuvres that companies can adopt.
For a few years now, more and more companies have launched consumer awareness campaigns, educating the customers on their purchase choices, offering more "sustainable" products.
To declare itself sustainable, a company must comply with two internationally recognized fundamental parameters:
1. Higg material sustainability index, or the environmental impact of a brand;
2. Product carbon footprint, i.e. the greenhouse gases emitted during the product's life cycle, from birth to disposal.
However, transparency of the entire logistics chain is also essential in selecting sustainable companies. Companies often have direct contact only with contractors to whom they have entrusted part of the production and not with subcontractors for whom they have no certainty of the process's sustainability.
Among the other measures proposed to support the ecosystem, there are new, less impacting materials.
Among these, there are:
• Nettle, with which soft and light items are produced.
• Organic Hemp, very useful for making resistant garments;
Both do not require the use of pesticides and large quantities of water;
• Jute, 100% recyclable and biodegradable. The garments made with jute are known for their coolness and freshness in hot and humid weather. Moreover, its cultivation has a low environmental impact;
• Econyl, also known as nylon generated from waste materials recovered from oceans, seas and land. An example is the plastic island in the Pacific Ocean discovered by Charles Moore in 1997, born precisely from accumulations of plastic and other waste;
• Another material very popular in recent years is "Vegan Leather". It's a suitable alternative to animal leather obtained from vegetable sources. It's eco-friendly and also cruelty-free.
It is essential to emphasize that eco-sustainability does not concern only the materials used but the entire production cycle. I wish to conclude with a reflection. Fashion is neither good nor bad, neither greedy nor humble. Fashion is the daughter of its time and is a reflection of society. As such, it assumes the appearance and exaggerates the beautiful as the ugly. It is up to us to give it a direction that we will have nothing to blame for.
By Chiara Tropea, fashion Journalist