To create a garment, fashion companies use a lot of unsustainable, resource-intensive practices. This is one of the reasons why the garment industry is considered to be one of the most polluting in the world.
From creation, manufacturing, and packaging, to transport – every segment of garment production is responsible for greenhouse emissions, water waste, and a growing number of landfills. To change this, there needs to be something done.
Even though many fashion businesses are aware of how unethical and unsustainable their practices are, it will take a lot of time and patience for the whole industry to really change.
Let’s see what sustainable practices the garment industry needs to employ to be able to be more sustainable.
1. Reduce water consumption
The garment industry is notorious for its water consumption. It’s estimated that on average, the garment industry uses around 93 billion cubic meters every year. That’s why the garment industry is the most water-intensive and polluting industry in the world.
One of the sustainable practices includes reducing and minimizing water consumption. However, reducing water consumption during the production stage is challenging for most brands. What they could do is try to use materials that don’t require such huge amounts of water.
2. Use more sustainable materials
This sustainable practice is closely connected to the previous one. As mentioned, for brands to be able to use less water in their supply chain, they would need to use different kinds of materials.
Those alternative materials include sustainable materials such as vegan materials, recycled or upcycled, and biodegradable materials. These kinds of materials are sustainable because they don’t harm our planet. They come from renewable resources and don’t have any impact on water use, or habitat destruction, among other things linen dress .
Of course, it will take quite a bit of time for most fashion businesses to switch to these types of materials.
3. Produce less
In addition to excessive water consumption, water pollution, and the use of unsustainable materials, the garment industry also makes a lot of waste. This is because it produces too many garments that can never be sold. Later these unsold garments end up in evergrowing landfills.
But this is a problem that can easily be solved. Fashion brands can cut overproduction by introducing custom clothing, print-on-demand clothing, and other practices that encourage a circular economy.
The made-to-order business model is a great solution for overproduction. If you’re interested in implementing this model and these practices in your business, you can explore and find out more about them.
Producing less clothing can significantly contribute to a more sustainable garment industry.
4. Cut the use of harmful chemicals
The use of harmful chemicals in the garment industry is nothing new. Paints, inks, and plasticizers, used to print images onto garments are known to be cancerous and harmful to the environment.
But those who want, can cut the use of harmful chemicals easily. Today, we have alternative, non-toxic dye and ink options that are not harmful. If a fashion business wants to transition and become a sustainable brand, it can.
Additionally, a brand can choose who they partner with. Consciously partnering with a supplier who doesn’t use harmful chemicals and whose practices aren’t harmful to humans and the environment is also a good start.
5. Reusable or eco-friendly packaging
Packaging also plays a big role in the garment industry. Ever since the rise of online retail, packaging doesn’t just protect a product but it’s also seen as an important marketing tool. It reinforces the brand’s identity and tells its story.
And while plastic packaging is still very much in use, things are slowly changing. A great thing is that more and more businesses are switching to more sustainable, biodegradable, and reusable packaging.
Sustainable packaging is mostly made of materials that can be renewed or recycled. Biodegradable packaging is the kind of packaging that can be easily recycled and doesn’t harm the environment. Cardboard and paper are good examples of biodegradable packaging.
Reusable packaging is another great and sustainable option. This type of packaging reduces the constant demand for new packaging.
6. Sustainable delivery services
Together with packaging, online retail has brought forward the use of delivery services. This means more freight transport and delivery vehicles. And as you may know, transport is another great source of pollution.
So, to minimize the impact, the garment industry can start employing more eco-friendly and sustainable delivery services. Efficient transportation is where the industry should invest more – in eco-friendly vehicles and alternative fuel sources.
Some of the alternative fuel options include electricity, vegetable oils, and alcohols such as ethanol, methanol, and gaseous fuels.
Sustainable practices in the garment industry are still very much unexplored and a very small number of fashion brands are looking into them. It will take a lot of time and effort to really make a significant change in the fashion industry.