The Fashion Industry is Going Green by Brett Clawson

Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Traditionally, the fashion industry hasn’t cared much about the environment. The production of clothing has polluted many rivers and been the main source of waste in landfills. Now, however, just like many other industries, the fashion industry is making efforts to be kinder to both the environment and its wildlife.

Animal Cruelty

In the recent past, designers had no qualms about using fur, skin or feathers from whatever creatures they chose. As long as it looked good and sold, they were happy. In some cases, even endangered animals like the antelope have been hunted for their skins

The changes they are making now are partly due to public outcry over these materials. Everything from the down used in coats to the python skin used in boots causes cruelty and death and many today are trying to live a gentler life. Thankfully, humans are beginning to make the change to more cruelty-free and sustainable lifestyles and the fashion industry is following. After all, people who prefer electric cars and have installed a solar power system are likely to care about the entire ecosystem of the world, not just one area.

Artificial Fibers

Ironically, in an attempt to get away from the use of fur in outerwear, fake fur, often called „faux fur“, became popular. After all, it’s fluffy, cruelty-free and can be made in every color. The big downside to this, however, is that faux fur is made from plastic. There’s that word again. Plastic is the cause of most of the world’s pollution and is killing its oceans.

During the manufacture of all synthetic materials including faux fur and such other common materials as nylon, tiny microfibers are released into the ocean where they are ingested by fish. Because of this, even people who are strict about only using natural products in their home and clothing are still affected by pollution from manufactured fabrics when they eat seafood.

Sustainable Materials

Clearly, the time has come for the fashion industry to make some big changes. Designers are turning to more sustainable materials in clothing manufacture.
Fresh, white cotton may come to mind as a sustainable material and one that is safe to buy in clothing. However, unless the cotton material is clearly designated as organic, you will be wearing many chemicals along with the cotton.

The cotton industry is heavily polluted with pesticides, then bleaches and other harmful chemicals are used in its final processing. Not only is this bad for the wearer, but it also is harmful to the earth and the farmers who grow it.

Better choices are hemp, linen and bamboo fibers. They require less intrusive growing methods, are traditionally grown organically and have a nice sheen. This allows them to be used in the manufacture of finer items like dress shirts and jackets.

Recycled Materials

Recycled fibers or „second-hand fibers“ as they were known have been looked down upon in the past by designers. However, now such popular designers as Stella McCartney are embracing recycled textiles as well as other cruelty-free and sustainable materials.

In addition, in an effort to keep such items as discarded men’s jeans out of landfills, they are being sold to green housing developers, particularly those who make tiny houses to be used in the walls as insulation.

Perhaps the biggest use of recycled materials is now in the manufacture of footwear. Many companies are now using sustainable or recycled materials to make everything from dress shoes to running shoes. In addition, companies are starting innovative programs like subscribing to recycled shoes. This means that when the purchased shoes have worn out, they can be returned for more recycling and a fresh pair sent to the subscriber.

While fashion designers are doing what they can to make the world greener and more cruelty-free, there are also many things that individuals can do. It is easier than ever now to shop for, or to sell, clothing items. It has expanded to a huge online business. As far as shoes, the recent throw-away society attitude is now returning to traditional shoe repair shops to give their footwear new life.