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unlocking 6 Ways the Fashion Industry Can Become More Sustainable in 2024

unlocking 6 Ways the Fashion Industry
6 Ways the Fashion Industry Can Become More Sustainable in 2024

The fashion industry is at a crossroads, with sustainability emerging as a critical imperative. Despite this urgency, recent findings indicate that the industry is falling short of its climate targets. A report by Stand. Earth reveals that out of 14 major brands, only 4 are on track to cut greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Challenges in Achieving Climate Targets

This glaring gap between current efforts and required reductions underscores the challenges faced by the fashion industry. With 2024 underway, urgent action is needed to bridge this divide and address environmental concerns. Experts emphasize that a collaborative approach, involving major competitors joining forces, is essential to meet climate goals. Samata Pattison, founder and CEO of Black Pearl, stresses the need for an "all-hands-on-deck" situation, highlighting the industry's limited time for transformative change.

Legislation and Eco-Design Advancements

Amid the challenges, a ray of hope emerges with recent legislative developments. The European Union has approved new eco-design legislation, expected to be formally adopted in early 2024. This legislation encompasses a ban on the destruction of unsold textiles and footwear, requirements for product durability, reusability, and repairability, and the introduction of digital product passports. These measures aim to bring about greater transparency in the fashion supply chain, offering consumers insight into the environmental impact of their purchases.

On-Demand Fashion: A Solution to Overproduction

Overproduction remains a significant challenge in the fashion industry, with an estimated 10 to 45% of all clothes never sold. To combat this, on-demand manufacturing is gaining traction. Brands like Weekday and Desigual are experimenting with made-to-order models, while Unspun provides 3D technology to create clothes on demand, directly from the yarn.

Eco-Friendly Dyes: Innovations in Colorifix and Living Ink

The traditional dyeing process poses a severe threat to the environment, with chemical discharge polluting rivers in countries like Bangladesh and China. Innovative solutions are emerging, such as Colorifix (bacterial dyes), Living Ink (algae-based dyes), and Air-Ink (which turns pollution into dyes). These alternatives mark a significant stride toward sustainable and eco-friendly coloration in the fashion industry.

Seaweed-Based Materials: Stella McCartney's Kelsun and SeaCell

Seaweed, an often-overlooked resource, is gaining prominence in fashion. Stella McCartney has introduced a new seaweed-based yarn called Kelsun. Additionally, brands like Another Tomorrow have partnered with SeaCell, a material created by responsibly harvesting seaweed from Icelandic fjords. These innovations offer environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional materials.

Recycling Technology: Circ's Breakthrough in Blended Fabrics

Recycling textiles poses a substantial challenge, with less than 1% of used garments currently being turned into new clothes. Circ, however, has made significant strides in recycling blended materials. By breaking down polycotton into reusable polyester and Lyocell fibers, Circ's technology presents a breakthrough in fabric recycling.

The Just Transition: Ensuring Fair Treatment for Garment Workers

While embracing sustainability is crucial, the well-being of garment workers should not be overlooked. Shockingly, 93% of brands are not paying garment workers a living wage. As the industry transitions to on-demand models, there is a risk of increased pressure on workers due to sudden surges in demand. A just transition is imperative, ensuring secure jobs and fair pay for workers as the industry moves toward a sustainable future.

In conclusion, as the fashion industry navigates the challenges of sustainability, legislative support, innovative technologies, and ethical transitions are key. The urgency of addressing climate targets demands collective action, and the outlined trends provide a roadmap for a more sustainable fashion future.

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