As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, we’re seeing an increase in the number of ethical fashion brands entering the market. And that’s great - the more choices we have when it comes to dressing our best, the better. Generally speaking, though, fashion still isn’t ethical, and brands big and small continue to harm the planet with toxic emissions and landfill waste.
It’s estimated that over half of all ‘fast fashion’ garments are disposed of in under a year, and as little as one per cent of materials from our clothes is recycled around the world. What’s more, a lorry load of textiles is sent to landfill every single second. Figures like these need to change.
In this article, we round up ways fashion brands - including our own, Ultra Tee - can make their businesses more environmentally friendly, and reduce the damaging impact fashion is having on our environment. Read on to find out more, and share your own ideas using @UltraTeeBrand.
Source ethical materials
Fashion is one of the world’s most competitive industries, and as such, businesses need to be able to produce cheap clothing as soon as it’s spotted on the catwalks. Cotton farming requires a lot of pesticides, and dying clothes requires a third of a pound of chemicals for a single shirt. When fashion brands work with ethically sourced and environmentally friendly materials instead, they not only support Fair Trade and animal rights but reduce their impact on the environment - and in the majority of cases, organic clothing is much higher quality than mass-made materials.
In the UK alone, more than 300,000 tonnes of clothing was sent to landfill in 2016, a figure that continues to rise as more of us choose to throw away clothing rather than reusing, recycling or donating to a charity. Fashion brands can help by encouraging recycling, whether by adding a label to garments, offering a recycling service from their fashion outlet or by spreading the word about recycling schemes and initiatives on social media and in their blog posts.
Create long-lasting garments
Another way that fashion brands can help to protect the environment is by creating high-quality, long-lasting pieces of clothing. Indeed, today’s fast fashion trend means that clothing is typically made cheaply using low-quality materials, which fade, stretch or shrink in no time at all. Instead, investing in manufacturing and quality ethical materials will help garments last longer, which will encourage us to hold on to pieces for longer, or pass them on to friends, family and children.
Package and ship with care
Consumers are spending more online than ever before, and the fashion industry is one of the biggest benefactors. Companies like Boohoo, Asos and PrettyLittleThing operate online-only and are now amongst the most popular fashion retailers in the UK. But whilst online shopping means we’re using our cars less, it puts a strain on the postal service. Retailers can do more to reduce the number of returns (meaning fewer delivery trucks) and using eco-friendly packaging.
Top retailer Zara, for example, now delivers all of its online orders in 100% recycled cardboard boxes, which is made from the boxes previously used to deliver clothing in stores. Asos, too, has invested in eco-friendly packaging, and now fits more parcels on delivery vehicles at a time.
Promote an eco-friendly lifestyle
Whether you realise it or not, fashion brands are influential. The chances are, you’ve scrolled through your favourite retailer’s Instagram feed to look for outfit inspiration before a big event or night out - and if those brands post more eco-friendly content, you’ll listen up. For example, H&M boasts that it’s “proud to be fake since 1947” to encourage people to stop buying real fur coats, and here at Ultra Tee, we share regular posts of our models in stunning outdoor locations.
The truth is that fashion brands can do more to make the world a greener place - but we have to start somewhere. The ideas we’ve put together are only the tip of an iceberg. Some brands, for example, spending millions of pounds developing eco-friendly biodegradable collagen fabrics, or the world’s strongest denim jeans that are resistant to ripping. The future is pretty exciting.
As the fashion world continues to evolve, it’s up to us, consumers, to pressure brands and high street chains to change the way they manufacture and market clothing. Together, with a shared vision, we’ll be able to transform the industry, protect the environment, and look great doing so!