Sustainability in the fashion industry faces an uphill climb.(Unsplash)
Sustainability in the fashion industry faces an uphill climb.(Unsplash)

Sustainability in the fashion industry faces an uphill climb

Harmful chemicals, global transport of goods and non-biodegradable packaging add to the environmental cost. The combined impact has put the fashion industry under scrutiny among consumers who want to know where — and how — their clothes are produced.
By Associated Press | London
UPDATED ON JAN 08, 2020 01:43 PM IST

Sustainability in fashion is a hot button topic, with retailers large and small racing to prove their green credentials, but the desire for new attire churns and the industry remains one of the world’s largest polluters as climate activists and watchdogs sound alarms.

The industry is the second largest consumer of water and is responsible for 8-10% of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, according to the United Nations Environment Program.

“So, for example, it would take 13 years to drink the water that is used to make one pair of jeans and one T-shirt,” said Fee Gilfeather, a sustainability expert at the nonprofit OXFAM. “It’s just an incredible amount of environmental resources that are required for making the clothing that we wear.”

Harmful chemicals, global transport of goods and non-biodegradable packaging add to the environmental cost. The combined impact has put the industry under scrutiny among consumers who want to know where — and how — their clothes are produced. They’re demanding ethical practices and responsible retailing.

Some manufacturers and retailers have found innovative solutions, both large and small.

At the high end of the market, designers are keen to make sustainable fashion synonymous with luxury. In 2015, a sustainability report by Nielsen found that 66% of consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly clothing. At the low, fast fashion end of the industry, promises have been made.

Inditex, the retail giant that owns Zara, announced a sustainability pledge in July, saying it wants all its clothes to be made from sustainable or recycled fabrics by 2025.

In addition, the global fashion sector addressed climate change by launching the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action at the COP24 climate conference in Katowice in December 2018. Leading fashion brands, retailers, supplier organizations, a major shipping company and global NGO WWF International have agreed to collectively address the climate impact of the industry across sectors. Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary for UN Climate Change, said the charter comes at a time when “we needed it most.” The charter recognizes the crucial role of fashion as a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with multiple opportunities to reduce emissions. It hopes to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 and notes a number of issues: decarbonization of the production phase; selection of climate friendly and sustainable materials; the need for low-carbon transport; and improving consumer dialogue and awareness.

The scale of the charter is vast, but activists are up against behemoths at times.

In Britain, the Environmental Audit Committee reported on the problem earlier this year and found that the U.K. buys more clothes than any other country in Europe, throwing away 1 million tonnes annually with 300,000 tonnes (over 661,000,000 pounds) going to incinerators or landfills. The EAC, chaired by Member of Parliament Mary Creagh, concluded that fashion retailers should take responsibility for the clothes they sell. The Committee called for a producer responsibility scheme for textiles, which would add a small amount to the cost of each item, raising money to invest in recycling centers to divert clothing from landfills and incineration. The British government, then led by Prime Minister Theresa May, rejected all the committee’s proposals, much to the dismay of Fashion Revolution, a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry.

“That set us back 20 years at the very, very least. It is inexcusable and frankly, unforgivable,” said the organization’s creative director and co-founder, Orsola De Castro. “Some of those recommendations, you’d think why would you not take that into consideration? And the reality is that the U.K. government in this occasion has also looked very out of touch because we are seeing quite a lot of policy change happening, for instance, in France. And it seems that them not getting up to speed on this is a terrible thing.”

The industry has other problems as well. It has been accused of unethical labor practices, though the tide began to turn after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013, when an eight-story building containing a garment factory in Dhaka, Bangledesh, collapsed and killed 1,134 people.

“We’re seeing a huge rise in public demand over not just better products, but better buying habits. And we’re looking at a generation that is applying scrutiny, that is wanting to know that brands are accountable. And obviously transparency has been really on the rise ever since the Rana Plaza disaster,” De Castro said.

But significant change throughout the industry, coupled with mass consumer action, has yet to come, she said.

“Real effective changes? I don’t think we’re seeing any particular impact, but look, when it comes to awareness, massive difference,” De Castro said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

Follow more stories on Facebook and Twitter

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hermes is seen on a store in Paris, France, April 24, 2020. (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hermes is seen on a store in Paris, France, April 24, 2020. (REUTERS)

Why go to Paris when you can buy Hermes in Hangzhou?

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 02:16 PM IST
Buying luxury at home is the new normal for Chinese shoppers. All the big fashion houses will need to adapt.
Close
Nidhi Sunil is first Indian model to be appointed as the global spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris. (Photo: Instagram/NidhiSunil)
Nidhi Sunil is first Indian model to be appointed as the global spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris. (Photo: Instagram/NidhiSunil)

Felt free after stopping hyper involved relationship with my mirror: Nidhi Sunil

By Mallika Bhagat, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:42 PM IST
India born New York based lawyer-turned-model, who is the first Indian global spokesperson for L’Oréal Paris, talks about her foray into modelling and inclusivity in the industry.
Close
Haruki Murakami(Instagram)
Haruki Murakami(Instagram)

Japanese author Haruki Murakami designs T-shirt collection inspired by his works

By Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2021 01:46 PM IST
Japanese author Haruki Murakami, who has written global bestsellers including Kafka by the Shore and Norwegian Wood, recently collaborated with high street fashion brand Uniqlo and designed eight graphic T-shirts that are inspired by his love of music as well as his literary works.
Close
Vidya Balan in <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>59k dress(Instagram/balanvidya)
Vidya Balan in 59k dress(Instagram/balanvidya)

Vidya Balan makes a style statement in 58k purple pinstripe dress

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 11:28 AM IST
  • For a photo shoot, Vidya Balan wore a purple pinstripe dress with a mauve jacket and opted to go sans-accessories. The Kahaani actor taught us how to channel a fierce vibe with our glam in new pics.
Close
Arjun Kapoor turns stylist for Shanaya Kapoor (Instagram/ shanayakapoor02 and arjunkapoor)
Arjun Kapoor turns stylist for Shanaya Kapoor (Instagram/ shanayakapoor02 and arjunkapoor)

Shanaya Kapoor slays in oversized hoodie as cousin Arjun turns stylist for her

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 09:50 AM IST
  • Shanaya Kapoor shared images from her impromptu at-home photo shoot with fans on Instagram. The photo shoot was a family affair, as Arjun Kapoor turned stylist and Khushi Kapoor edited the images and delivered the final product.
Close
Hina Khan is a boss babe in co-ord set(Instagram/ realhinakhan)
Hina Khan is a boss babe in co-ord set(Instagram/ realhinakhan)

Hina Khan in 12k co-ord set is all about boss babe vibes with a hint of elan

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 05, 2021 08:28 AM IST
  • Say goodbye to your winter clothes cause it's time to slay in some gorgeous floral print mini skirts and tops like Hina Khan. The actor recently shared images of herself wearing a summery co-ord set and we love it.
Close
Euphor by Amit Aggarwal (Photo: Instagram/AmitAggarwalOfficial)
Euphor by Amit Aggarwal (Photo: Instagram/AmitAggarwalOfficial)

Couture’s escapist euphoria

By Manish Mishra
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 10:58 PM IST
Viewing any Amit Aggarwal show is akin to a meditative process, an attempt to tune into the shifts that are flowing through AA’s sensibilities
Close
Janhvi Kapoor sets Roohi promos on fire in sheer ivory saree by Manish Malhotra(Instagram/janhvikapoor/manishmalhotra05)
Janhvi Kapoor sets Roohi promos on fire in sheer ivory saree by Manish Malhotra(Instagram/janhvikapoor/manishmalhotra05)

Janhvi Kapoor sets Roohi promos on fire in sheer ivory saree by Manish Malhotra

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 08:33 PM IST
  • Leaving fans hooked with her saree chronicles, Janhvi Kapoor serves another sensuous look from Manish Malhotra’s collection in an ivory-coloured six yards of elegance as she promotes her upcoming film ‘Roohi’ on Day 4
Close
Slay spring sundowner or summer brunch like Vidya Balan in asymmetric kurta set(Instagram/who_wore_what_when)
Slay spring sundowner or summer brunch like Vidya Balan in asymmetric kurta set(Instagram/who_wore_what_when)

Slay spring sundowner or summer brunch like Vidya Balan in asymmetric kurta set

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:22 PM IST
  • Vidya Balan recently dolled up for an e-interview and we love everything about retro-chic vibe. From her dove grey asymmetric kurta to smart narrow pants, we can’t wait to recreate the delightful silhouette as we walk into spring-summer
Close
Aditi Rao Hydari aces flirty summer fashion in chic pink strappy bustier, pants(Instagram/sanamratansi)
Aditi Rao Hydari aces flirty summer fashion in chic pink strappy bustier, pants(Instagram/sanamratansi)

Aditi Rao Hydari aces flirty summer fashion in chic pink strappy bustier, pants

By Zarafshan Shiraz
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 04:44 PM IST
  • Want to set mercury soaring when going for lunch or an evening out? Take fashion cues from Aditi Rao Hydari’s romantic steamy look for The Girl on The Train promotions in a pink strappy twisted bustier teamed with wide-leg pants that look flirty enough to add drama to our summer closet
Close
Deepika Padukone in the Levi's ad(Instagram)
Deepika Padukone in the Levi's ad(Instagram)

Deepika Padukone's Levi's ad set ripped off from Sooni Taraporevala's Yeh Ballet

By Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 04:11 PM IST
Sooni Taraporevala shared images of scenes from the Levi's ad and from her film, Yeh Ballet, sharing "No such dance studio exists in Mumbai which is why we built it. Basically the director of this (Levi's) ad saw Yeh Ballet and decided to plagiarize our set down to the very last detail."
Close
Kriti Sanon in denim-on-denim outfit(Varinder Chawla)
Kriti Sanon in denim-on-denim outfit(Varinder Chawla)

Kriti Sanon nails the classic combo, pairs denim romper with white accessories

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 03:17 PM IST
  • Kriti Sanon recently gave us outfit goals as she stepped out in a bodycon denim romper with white accessories for casual outing. We can't help but marvel at the choices of the fashionista.
Close
Meghan Markle and Prince harry during interview(Instagram/CBS)
Meghan Markle and Prince harry during interview(Instagram/CBS)

Meghan Markle is maternity fashion goals in 3 lakh dress with Prince Harry

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 11:49 AM IST
  • For her much anticipated interview with the media mogul, Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle wore a black silk dress and showed that she knows how to do maternity fashion right.
Close
Madhuri Dixit in Finding Anamika.(Instagram)
Madhuri Dixit in Finding Anamika.(Instagram)

Madhuri Dixit paints the town red in Finding Anamika's first glimpse

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Alfea Jamal, Hindustan Times, Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 10:34 AM IST
Bollywood actor Madhuri Dixit, will soon be seen in the upcoming drama webseries Finding Anamika in which she plays a global superstar. Madhuri shared a glimpse of herself from the show, and she looked as ravishing as she did back in the day.
Close
Janhvi Kapoor at Roohi promotions(Instagram/mohitrai)
Janhvi Kapoor at Roohi promotions(Instagram/mohitrai)

Janhvi Kapoor stuns in simple blue spaghetti-strap dress at Roohi promotions

By Nishtha Grover, Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 04, 2021 09:54 AM IST
  • Janhvi Kapoor recently stepped out in an ethereal flowy dress for a promotional event of her upcoming film Roohi. The dress that is worth 22k is one of our favourite looks donned by the actor.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP