With so many problems going on these days – climate change, plastic pollution, deforestation, loss of coral reefs & biodiversity, water scarcity, and the big one Covid_19, to name a few – the fashion industry is not necessarily top of mind for most people as either a problem or solution. Unfortunately, we have got some bad news for you – the clothing industry is dirty and a significant contributor to environmental & human damage. The good news is that sustainable fashion addresses many of these issues in ways you may not expect. And the even better news is that we have business owners in New Zealand that have made the conscious decision to make a difference, now we need your support to drive this home!!!
The fashion industry is distressingly damaging to our environment. It accounted for 2-10% of the EU’s environmental impact, 79 billion cubic metres of water, 1,715 million tons of CO2 emissions, and 92 million tons of waste back in 2015. Source: europarl.europa.eu
Being naked is the #1 most sustainable option. Notion is #2. Right from the very start of the Notion journey, there was a conscious effort to make sustainability as much as a part of the company as I possibly could. I got laughed again by the business community for some of my decisions. I brought rock paper packaging into the company, our designers are emerging New Zealand fashion designers there is no mass production of garments, and the designers a frugal with waste when it comes to fabric and time, as this is money down the drain. The emerging designer’s garments are value for money especially when you see similar styles that are mass-produced and customers paying twice the amount for these products. I think as a nation New Zealand we still have caught on that emerging designer fashion is the new black in New Zealand. I have six reasons why I push towards emerging designer fashion.
Reason 1: Sustainable fashion reduces your carbon footprint
The global fashion industry emits a hefty amount of greenhouse gases per year, thus contributing massively and actively to global warming. One of the reasons is that the vast majority of our beloved clothes are petroleum-based and made from fossil fuels, including polyester, acrylic & nylon (check your clothing labels, you may be surprised). These materials require significantly more energy in the production phase than natural or recycled fibers.
Sustainable brands on the other side often use materials from natural or recycled fabrics that require significantly less to no chemical treatment, little water, less energy, and no fertilizers or pesticides to grow. Most organic fabrics such as linen, hemp, organic cotton & TENCEL™ (made from sustainable wood pulp) are even biodegradable. These environmentally-sound fabrics go easy on the planet and are amazing sustainable alternatives.
Reason 2: Sustainable fashion saves animal lives
This may not be news for you, but the fashion industry loves to kill for fashion. A common misconception is that leather, for instance, is a by-product of the meat industry. However, this is not always the case. It’s estimated that the leather industry alone is slaughtering and killing over 430 million animals per year. Not going into more detail here as it’s a topic for itself, but if wish to educate yourself more on animal suffering in the fashion industry, follow this link. PETA has a plethora of articles on this topic.
Sustainable fashion brands have started to increasingly embrace the use of cruelty-free alternatives, and there’s one for nearly every piece of fashion materials – polyester made with trash from the oceans (sounds familiar, doesn’t it?), bags created from recycled seatbelts, plant-based compostable sneakers, silk created from yeast, and bio-fabricated vegan wool. But one of the most demanded leather alternatives these days comes from pineapples. The fabric is produced using the leaves of pineapples in the harvesting process, giving by-product waste a new purpose.
Reason 3: Sustainable fashion requires less water
Water is a major resource for the fashion industry. It is used in the dyeing and finishing process for nearly all of our clothes. It takes an incredible amount of 2,700 litres of water to produce a single T-shirt. Cotton, in particular, is highly dependent on water but is usually grown in hot and dry areas where water is a scarce resource already.
By contrast, organic cotton reduces water consumption by 91% as opposed to conventional cotton. However, only 1% of global cotton production to date is organic. This is mainly due to the much higher cost of non-GMO seeds, which often require additional investments into materials & machinery, which farmers only use for their organically grown crop.
Other sustainable fabrics that require little to no water during the production phase include linen, hemp, REFIBRA™ & recycled fibers like recycled cotton.
Reason 4: Sustainable fashion supports fairer & safer working conditions
Believe it or not, but modern-day slavery does exist. Minimum wages (if at all), endless working hours, unacceptable health & safety conditions, and the prohibition of workers unions is what reality for most garment workers in the fast fashion sector looks like. Moreover, verbal and physical abuse are still common practise in many parts of the industry. A few informative documentaries exist on the social injustices of the fast fashion industry. Check out “The True Cost” or “Fashion Factories Undercover” to learn more about it.
Eco-ethical brands advocate for providing humane working conditions, health care, and fair wages for their workers, which are typically above average. Generally, they show a larger purpose towards creating economic opportunities for those in need to end poverty. We all want to feel great about our clothes, and that includes feeling great about knowing under what conditions they were made. The well-being of people involved are just as valuable as the environment and animals, don’t you think?
Reason 5: Sustainable fashion teaches us how to love our clothes again
It is just so easy to look at a gorgeous, finished piece of clothing in a store and forget that there’s a story and lifecycle behind it. Truth is, we are detached because the industry encourages us to be so. But being aware of all the downsides of this industry will hopefully lead to more conscious consumerism. One that is planet, animal & people friendly.
It’s time to recognize the impact of our buying decisions. Not as an inconsequential part of our modern lifestyles that changes with every season, but as an environmental and human responsibility that could greatly affect the future of our planet. At the end of the day, we can choose if we want to be part of the problem, or part of the solution and to quote Anne Lappe “Every time you spend money you cast a vote for the kind of world you want”.
Be the change
At Notion I am committed to sourcing sustainable fashion, our packaging is rock paper, our designers are New Zealand’s hottest emerging designers who do not mass produce clothing, I even committed to selling recycled pre-loved clothing. Recycled is great as long as we remember it cannot be sustained with our actual new clothing being in the market. So be the change and make sure that new fashion in the market is sustainable. People who support sustainable fashion are not selfish about what weather or not the garment has a well-known label printed on it, they give more of a damn about the planet and future generations to come. Click on the links to check out incredible emerging designers at Notion.
Thanks so much for reading!!! M xx