On today's blog we will expand on Sustainable Saturday's, a series where we will present our research and inspiration on sustainable living. This is a topic that motivated us to create Shop Collaboré, and we are passionate about implementing what we learn along the way. We invite our community to participate and contribute with their expertise and ideas for how we can inspire and cultivate a more sustainable society.
Sustainable living will encompass discussions on many important factors and as a fashion platform, we will focus on how it relates to the apparel industry and are beginning by covering the below:
- Reducing waste to landfills & toxicity seeping into the ground
- Cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions produced by textile manufacturing and production
- Stopping pollution of our oceans and waterways caused by plastic microfibers in synthetic materials
- Lowering water consumption caused by textile and fiber production
- Using better materials that can biodegrade quickly, and without toxic chemicals released into the environment
- Ending linear consumption and creating a circular model by recycling textiles into new fibers
- Encouraging new technologies that don’t rely on fossil fuels like coal and oil for fiber manufacturing
- Stopping deforestation by using more sustainable cellulosic fibers and re-planting
To start, we are highlighting the importance of recycling and reusing fashion waste. Did you know that Americans send over 14 million tons of fashion waste to landfills each year, which is over 85% of what is created annually. Many of these materials are not biodegradable, or take decades to break down. This waste comes from individuals as well as brands, most notably fast fashion brands. With the growth of the fast fashion retailers, clothing production has doubled between 2000 and 2015, and the waste has tripled in that time period. But it’s almost completely recyclable, whether it be in the form of resale clothing, recycling fabric into new fibers to be made into new products or re-purposing the excess fabric into new designs.
Of the 1% that is recycled, 45% is re-used as apparel; 30% is converted into industrial polishing/wiping cloths, mattress filling, and insulation material and 20% is processed into fiber to be manufactured into new products. Much of the re-used apparel gets baled for export to developing countries, while some garments are used domestically for sale in thrift shops.
Fiber recycling has limitations as the technology and infrastructure to be able to create new fibers from used textiles is still developing. We will get further into the recycling technology in future posts. Consumer demand for recycled materials has been growing, but needs to continue to increase to drive new technology.
The implications are dramatic for our planet. The fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon emissions, largely due to the textile production process. Much of this comes from the use of fossil fuels including coal in the processing of synthetic fibers. Some synthetics, like nylon, emit nitrous oxide which is 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide gas. Additionally, over 8,000 different kinds of chemicals are used in the textile production process, a large percentage of which are considered toxic and can seep into our environment causing many health issues.
Our goals at Shop Collaboré are to encourage our community to educate themselves on these issues, and to purchase consciously. We will continue to share our knowledge and to highlight brands that are acting responsibly.