Sustainability in fashion has always been a controversial topic. For decades the terms sustainability and fashion weren’t always linked together or even written in the same sentence. But it seems there is some form of global awakening and eco-friendly, ethical fashion is finally being recognised as a thing. On the occasion of Earth Day, one should recognise that it is not just the efforts of the brands that will make a difference; it is the combined efforts of everyone involved that will help the fashion industry in its sustainability efforts. So where does the fashion industry stand right now?
It is estimated that ‘global textile production emits 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases annually, more than international flights and maritime shipping combined’. As the fashion world prepares to address these urgent issues another sensitive question is being asked by the global movement called Fashion Revolution. #Whomademyclothes is asked while many still remember, in fact they mindfully bring to mind the tragic catastrophe where 1,138 garment workers perished in the Rana Plaza collapse on 24 April 2013 in Bangladesh.
At the moment, human rights abuses, gender inequality and environmental degradation all remain rife within the fashion industry, and positive change is more urgently needed than ever to tackle climate change and create a more equitable future for everybody working within the fashion supply chains.” Says Carry Somers founder of Fashion Revolution.
Back in December, Stella McCartney launched the UN Sustainable Fashion Industry Charter for Climate. To celebrate Earth Day, Fashion Revolution signed the charter declaring a climate emergency whereby all signatories pledged to ‘a series of industry-wide commitments including a target of 30 percent greenhouse gas emission reductions by 2030’. Other signatories include Burberry, Gap, H&M, Levi’s, Kering, and Inditex.
Amongst other efforts adopted by fashion brands, many brands banned the use of fur and exotic skins in their collections. Burberry vowed to stop destroying items that are unsaleable after a scandal that involved the burning of $36 million worth of luxury products. H&M’s Conscious Collection includes leather jackets and western boots made from Piñatex, which is a leather-like material made from discarded pineapple leaves. Allbirds made shoes from eucalyptus plants, and Burberry are working with Elvis & Kresse to utilise leather waste by putting it to use making leather accessories using a patchwork system.
A snap shot of Oxford Circus last week, April 15th in specific, showed hundreds of protesters organised by the Extinction Rebellion; an international protest group that uses non-violent civil disobedience to campaign for environmental issues and climate change. In face of such massive protests and organised campaigning it is inevitable that the fashion world should take serious and tangible measures.
Finally, have you met Greta Thunberg? It is a name we should all get acquainted with. The 16-year-old Swedish schoolgirl is nominated for The Nobel Prize for becoming the loud resonating voice of a generation aching for change. Her strikes for climate change have sparked a global movement; back in December she addressed world leaders at COP24 in Poland by saying “you are never too small to make a difference”. Whether that difference is as small as going vegan or swapping your clothes instead of buying new ones, we all should contribute to making a difference no matter how small!