How is the fashion industry becoming more eco-friendly.
This article answers the following questions:
- How does the fashion industry influence the environment?
- How can fashion brands be more friendly to the environment?
- Where can you look for sustainable packaging solutions for your brand?
Fashion vs. ecology
In the last decades, the fashion industry has grown enormously. Nowadays it’s estimated that it can be worth as much as 2,5 trillion dollars. It plays a key role in international economy.
Unfortunately, the growth of fashion industry results in significant environment pollution. Just behind food, transport and real estate industry, fashion is the biggest burden on the environment. It significantly contribute to resources usage and environmental pollution. There are several reasons behind it.
1) Mass production
The amount of produced clothes is huge, so much that it surpasses consumers’ demand. In the years 2000-2015 production in this industry doubled. Easily said, it came to an enormous overproduction of clothes. Nothing that is produced on such a scale can be neutral to the environment. It generates unnecessary waste – every year almost 39 million tonnes of clothes end up on dumping grounds and incineration plants!
2) Huge usage and pollution of water
Fashion is second most water-polluting branch, right behind agriculture. What is responsible for that is the production of textiles which mostly relies on chemicals toxic to the environment. Textile industry uses 3500 substances – 750 of those are classified as dangerous to human health, while 440 as dangerous to the environment.
Apart from that, the fashion industry is responsible for huge water usage. In 2015, the fashion and textiles industry used 79 billion m3 water. Around 2700l water is needed to produce one t-shirt!
3) High carbon footprint
The fashion industry has emitted more greenhouse gases than aerial traffic. It is estimated that the production of clothes and shoes is responsible for 10% of global emission of greenhouse gases! Textile purchase in the EU alone caused emission of around 654 kg CO2 per person.
4) Huge usage of plastic
Another problem is the composition of clothes available on the market. A lot of textiles and accessories from our wardrobe is made from synthetic materials, e.g. polyester, nylon or acryl. It means that our clothes are mainly made from plastic, which will last in the environment for a long time, polluting soil and water.
Those synthetic materials are most and foremost a source of microplastic. It is released when they decompose, but also during everyday usage of clothes, e.g. by mechanical attrition or by doing laundry.
5) E-commerce and plastic packaging
It can’t be forgotten how the last step of clothes’ production, which is selling and distributing them, impacts the environment. The amount of things to buy and the growing popularity of online shopping is the reason why distribution of clothes has become a huge burden to the planet.
It requires transportation to be involved in the process and even higher usage of plastic. A lot of brands, if not the majority of them, don’t care about the packaging their products will be sent in. Very often they’re packaged in plastic bags and poly mailers which can’t be re-used. Such a bag serves for just a few days, after which it ends up on a dumping ground where it will stay for a long time.
Plastic and the sustainability of fashion brands
The most important fields in which fashion brands can reduce their impact on the environment.
The above statistics show that the fashion industry is an enormous burden to the planet. However, there are ways to make this branch more eco-friendly.
An idea of sustainable fashion is becoming increasingly popular. Sustainable fashion brands are, of course, those that manage the natural resources reasonably and care about the materials used to make their products. Though, apart from that, they should also remember about the way of distributing their products.
We think that one of fundamental elements of the concept of sustainable fashion is circular economy. We’ve observed that one of the biggest problems is the omnipresent plastic which contributes to the environment pollution the most, increases the greenhouse gases emission and negatively impacts human health.
How to reduce the amount plastic in your fashion brand?
There are a lot of solutions. Of course, the choice of materials is important. It’s good to eliminate synthetic materials such as already mentioned polyester or nylon. Though, it should be remembered that production is not all.
Companies are also responsible for the way of packing finished products, their transportation and delivery. Very often companies forget about the process of distribution while it’s a generator of unnecessary plastic waste. From our observations we’ve found that very often even sustainable fashion brands pack and send their products in plastic packages, use no eco-friendly tapes etc. It results in the production of high quality clothes made from only natural materials still generating a huge amount of plastic. Luckily, there is a solution for that! It’s sustainable plant-based packaging.
Which packages will be the best for your brand?
There are a lot of variants when it comes to eco-friendly packaging. Unfortunately, most of them is either unintentional misguidance of the clients or intentional greenwashing. There are a lot of criteria with which eco-friendly packages can be rated. Our priority is to not litter our planet up, so for us, the most eco-friendly packaging are those that can undergo the process of composting, which means they’ll degrade to natural substances.
Among eco-friendly packaging which are compostable at the same time, we can distinct traditional paper and cardboard packages, although their production is involves deforestation (which is often unsustainable). In addition, paper and cardboard packaging takes more space and weights more that their plastic counterparts.
In our opinion, the most eco-friendly and functionable compostable packaging is safe, durable and resistant to damage but is not plastic-made. Compostable packaging from bioplastic retains the features of plastic packages with a difference that they are made from plants and can undergo the process of composting, they’ll disappear…
We offer various 100% compostable packages which will be a perfect solution for fashion brands, e.g. poly mailers, tapes, bubble wrap or product sachets.
Why is it worth it?
The fashion industry is facing one of the biggest transformations in its history. A permanent element of every company’s strategy will be the realisation of sustainable growth’s goals. Truth be told, brands will be soon made to do so.
First of all, law is becoming even stricter in this matter. In 2018, the European Union adopted the so-called waste package, which is an amendment of the most crucial directives regarding the waste management market.
Second of all, consumers are fed up with plastic. They are more aware why ecology is important. For this reason, in 2021 there was a huge spike in demand of eco-friendly packaging.
- Almost 1/3 Polish customers has stopped buying certain brands’ products because their packages weren’t eco-friendly.
- As much as 39% of consumers has experienced bad quality of packaging when shopping online . 19% of those felt not only disappointment, but also aggravation.
- 58% of Poles chooses products of those brands that implement solutions which follow the sustainable development policy.
- Every second person checks whether pro-eco promises of companies are actually fulfilled in their actions.
- In Poland, 78% of customers want to buy products that are friendly to the environment, even if the price is higher.
- According to the Polish Economic Institute, a Polish consumer uses, on average, ca. 160kg of packaging annually – and your packaging belongs to that.
If you want to pack your products in more sustainable way, take a look at our website where we’ve gathered the most eco-friendly packages for fashion.
DS Smith, Shopper trends unpacked.
Deloitte, Climate Sentiment Index.
Ellen MacArthur Foundation, "Rethinking business models for a thriving fashion industry".
University Institute of Fashion Technology, Textile dyeing industry an environmental hazard, 2012.
European Environment Agency, "Textiles in Europe's circular economy".
Parlament Europejski, Wpływ produkcji tekstyliów i odpadów tekstylnych na środowisko.