Fashion is often dismissed by critics as a frivolous waste of resources. Judged purely on its excesses, one may feel compelled to agree. The fashion industry produces roughly 10% of the globe’s carbon emissions and 20% of its wastewater. But these indulgences represent a huge opportunity for improvement.
The truth is that few industries are better poised to make a significant difference in the issues that matter to the world. Unlike most other pursuits, fashion touches the lives of every person on the planet. This offers fertile ground for initiatives to reduce waste, recycle materials, and find sustainable alternatives to damaging practices.
The Earth is facing unprecedented challenges. Climate change, and its myriad attendant effects, won’t be solved by burying our heads in the sand and pretending that everything is fine. It will take a willingness to look the truth straight in the eyes and commit to making meaningful changes to the way we live.
It starts with the individual, but it’s going to take a movement.
The Push for Sustainability
Few events bring together the biggest players in the fashion industry like the Oscars. But unlike in the past, this year’s show saw extravagence yielding the red carpet to sustainability.
As CNN pointed out, Saoirse Ronan graced the evening in a gown made partially from her Baftas outfit’s surplus fabric. Costume designer Arianna Phillips appeared in a dress she upcycled from a gown she wore to the Oscars in 2012. And Joaquin Phoenix enjoyed the festivities in the same tuxedo he’d worn to a number of other awards shows.
These are small steps, but they reflect a new awareness that’s growing around fashion. The industry is waking up to the importance of reducing textile waste and greening the world’s wardrobes.
The push for sustainability began in earnest around 2009, when activist Suzy Amis Cameron started the Red Carpet Green Dress campaign. Her goal was to use high-profile celebrities to raise awareness about critical climate issues. The contest she hosts challenges designers to fabricate garments using sustainable methods.
The next year, Livia Firth founded the Green Carpet Challenge. This initiative encourages sustainable material innovations within the industry and motivates celebrities to show off those garments at major events.
Initiatives like these don’t move the needle much when it comes to fashion at large. At least not directly. Their strength comes from the publicity they bring to the industry’s part in climate change. They build awareness among the general public, which increases demand for sustainable fashion. And that is beginning to make a substantial difference.
The Industry Responds to Public Pressure
Supply and demand are powerful market forces. In sustainable fashion, demand is driving initiatives among some of the industry’s biggest participants.
Certification programs have sprung up to help companies prove their environmental bona fides, and many leading fashion houses are getting on board.
The planet’s largest cotton sustainability program, the Better Cotton Initiative has released its Better Cotton Standard System. It reduces the impact of cotton production by certifying companies that commit to meaningful changes in crop production, water stewardship, land use, and the ethical treatment of farmers around the globe.
The Global Organic Textile Standard casts an even wider net. It sets strict standards regarding the use of organic chemicals, bleaches, dyes, and fibers, and works to maintain ethical labor practices. Garments that bear the GOTS seal guarantee that their supply chain follows best practices for organic textile production.
Chemical use in textiles is also a concern. The Standard 100 by Oeko-Tex is a certification program intended to reduce the number of dangerous substances that are released into the environment. Clothing that bears the Standard 100 certification has been submitted to extensive testing and carries no chemicals that are harmful to human health.
Bluesign is another certification initiative designed to reduce the environmental impact from toxic textile production. The standard tracks textiles along their entire manufacturing journey, limiting water usage, toxic dye applications, chemical bleaching procedures, and a host of other criteria to protect the health of textile workers and the environment.
The TTMCO is Doing Our Part
The truth is that human industry is destroying the planet. But it doesn’t have to. We firmly believe it can be a force for good assuming it carefully considers its impact and directs its energies toward constructive projects.
We’ve designed our business model around sustainability, working hard to meter our impact on the natural world.
All of our garments are produced on demand. The shirt that you’re considering buying won’t exist until you make a purchase. This avoids the overproduction issues that are a classic problem for the industry. When clothing is made specifically for the people that buy it, textile waste is kept to a minimum.
This focus on sustainable fashion extends to our production process. We use a direct-to-garment printing method that generates almost no wastewater and uses less energy than conventional techniques.
In addition, some of our products utilize recycled fabrics, vegan leather, organic cotton, and wood from renewable forests. And we’ve partnered with One Tree Planted, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to global reforestation. Every time we sell a product, we donate enough to have a tree planted somewhere in the world. The more we sell, the larger our forests grow!
We’re constantly working to refine our manufacturing process to lower our carbon footprint. That’s the commitment that we’ve made to our customers, to ourselves, and to the planet.
Because the truth matters, more than anything else. And the truth is that we can make a difference if we work together. The Truth Matters Company is privileged to help our customers be the change they want to see.