What does the fashion industry have to do with climate change, pollution and the exploitation of people in the workplace? Unfortunately a lot! The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters of the environment.
Sustainability in the fashion industry is and will remain important to reduce the impact of the textile industry on the environment and to improve working conditions in production. We can all make a contribution by changing our consumer behavior in the long term.
Sustainability in the fashion industry is important because it promotes the appreciation of garments and a more conscious approach to fashion. It looks at the impacts of the textile industry on the environment, society and the economy and looks for ways to minimize these impacts.
They focus on the quality, longevity, durability and reuse of clothing. This includes measures such as the use of sustainable materials, resource-saving production methods and improving working conditions in production.
Some frightening facts:
- By 2030, the consumption of clothing and footwear will increase by 63% from the current 62 million tons to 102 million tons.
- The German buys 60 pieces of clothing every year. Every 5th item of clothing is never worn.
- The fashion industry produces 2.1 billion tons of waste every year.
- 5.8 million tons of textiles, ie around 11 kg per person, are disposed of in the EU every year.
- In terms of negative impacts on the environment and climate change, the textile industry ranks fourth.
- 0.5 million tons of microplastic fibers end up in the sea every year through the washing of textiles.
- 25% - 40% of the textiles produced remain unsold and are disposed of.
- 12% of textile fabrics are offcuts and end up in the trash
- Only 1% of the clothing produced is recycled into new textiles.
Reasons why sustainability matters in the fashion industry:
- conservation of resources
Manufacturing clothing consumes significant amounts of water, energy, raw materials and other natural resources. This causes significant environmental damage. Drinking water, forests and fish stocks are shrinking and the climate is changing. Non-renewable raw materials are consumed. In India, for example, 22,500 liters of water are used to produce 1 kilo of cotton. The pesticides that are used pollute the groundwater and also damage the soil.
Therefore, sustainable fashion relies on the use of materials that use fewer resources, contain renewable raw materials and can be recycled more easily, such as organic cotton, lyocell, micromodal or recycled polyester.
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions
The textile industry is responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions. The textile industry causes around 1.2 billion tons of CO2 every year. As part of the textile industry, the fashion industry alone is responsible for 5% of global emissions. They arise from the production, transport and use of clothing in everyday life (e.g. washing, drying and ironing of clothing). Sustainability in the fashion industry helps reduce these emissions by using more environmentally friendly manufacturing methods and materials.
- improvement of working conditions
In many countries where clothing is produced, working conditions are poor, workers are exploited and there are frequent cases of child labor. More than 90% of fashion worldwide is produced in Asian countries under very poor working conditions. 93% of the companies surveyed by Fashion Checker do not pay their workers a living wage, even though it has been recognized as a basic human right by the United Nations. (https://fashionchecker.org/en/living_wage.html)
In addition, working conditions are unhealthy when toxic substances are used for dyeing or tanning. At least since the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in 2013, which housed five textile factories and cost the lives of 1,138 people, attention has been drawn to the desolate working and safety conditions in the textile industry.
Sustainable fashion is committed to fair pay and better, more dignified working conditions. This includes being in close contact with the production companies and visiting the producers at regular intervals.
4. Reduction of waste
The textile industry produces enormous amounts of waste each year (2.1 billion tons annually), which often ends up in landfills or enters water courses, causing pollution. The main reason for this is fast fashion, which tempts consumers to buy cheap clothing of inferior quality, which is produced very quickly and always wants to serve new trends. Due to the overproduction of fast fashion, unsold textiles end up in incinerators or are shipped abroad as used clothing and pollute the Atacama Desert of Chile as hazardous waste – without ever having been worn. In addition, fast fashion clothing is sorted out more quickly by consumers due to its low quality and short-lived fashion trend and usually ends up in the trash.
Sustainable fashion helps reduce this waste by promoting recycling and upcycling, thereby extending the lifespan of garments. Used clothing is recycled, converted into new fabrics or even upgraded. In addition, good quality produces long-lasting clothing that retains its quality even after many washes and is therefore worn longer.
Sustainable fashion means producing smaller quantities of a collection and reordering as needed. Due to trends of sustainable fashion designers such as "on-demand production", only what is actually ordered is produced. No cheap mass-produced goods are produced, but the garment is made personally and uniquely for the customer. The sustainable "No Waste Mode" wants to prevent waste from fabrics ending up in the trash. Remnants of cuts are converted into new products through upcycling. Or even better: even when designing the garments, the template is made in such a way that there are no gaps between the individual cuts and thus no leftovers and thus no textile waste.
If you are interested in the topic of on-demand production and no waste fashion, please read our blog post on this topic: https://hoofment.de/blogs/news/warum-eine-on-demand-produktion-und-no-waste-mode-so-important-ist
Animal and environmental protection
If you do without animal materials and only buy vegan textiles, you decide against the exploitation and torture of animals. Take a look at the documentaries "True Cost" and "Dominion". Sustainable fashion relies on fibers that are produced without the use of animal fibers. The market share of vegetable fibers on the world market is over 90%. So it's easy to do without leather, silk, wool or fur. But beware: using vegan material does not mean that these products also deserve a vegan seal of approval. Only if all components and production steps are manufactured without the use of animal products and in compliance with comprehensive animal rights are they really vegan.
And: Vegan clothing is only sustainable if it does not use synthetic fabrics. Although no animals have to suffer for polyester, viscose or nylon, they are not biodegradable and therefore harmful to the environment.
- promotion of quality
The fast-moving fashion world of fast fashion is often dominated by a few large corporations that keep setting new short-lived trends and ensure that clothing quickly goes out of fashion. Fast fashion brands bring out up to 24 collections a year. As already described above, the focus is on quantity instead of quality. Synthetic chemical fibers are preferably used to manufacture the cheap clothing. The fibers usually do not last long and the garment loses its shape too quickly.
Sustainability in the fashion industry is important in order to - away from fast fashion fashion - achieve more quality in fashion with the help of high-quality, environmentally friendly materials. This is the only way to make fashion more durable, more durable and more personal.
The EU reacts to these abuses in the textile industry:
On March 30, 2022, the European Commission published its strategy for sustainable textiles. This contains measures for the textile industry as part of the Green Deal. The EU wants to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
The concrete goal for the textile industry by 2030:
“By 2030, the textiles offered in the EU will be durable and recyclable. They consist largely of recycled fibers and are free of hazardous substances. In addition, they are manufactured under high social and ecological standards.”
(Source: European Commission – EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles)
Key points of this strategy for sustainable textiles:
- Overproduction of clothing should be counteracted.
- The cycle principle in the textile industry is to be expanded, ie items of clothing are to be brought back into circulation.
- More transparency in companies and prevention of greenwashing: sustainability information in the textile and fashion industry must no longer be false and misleading.
- Measures against the release of microplastics should be taken
- Producers should be held accountable with regard to textile waste from disposable fashion.
- A ban on the destruction of unsold products is to be introduced
- Textile products should be recyclable and contain no hazardous substances
- Sorting systems and modern recycling technologies are to be further developed.
- Clothing should be produced in compliance with social rights
( https://www.destatis.de/Europa/DE/Thema/GreenDeal/GreenDeal.html )
The way is clear. But progress is slow. Designers, producers, retailers, advertisers and every single consumer must now be mobilized and held accountable to redefine fashion and make it more sustainable. More legislation is urgently needed to push this forward. It will not work voluntarily everywhere.
Fortunately, there are now more and more sustainable fashion companies that do not practice greenwashing, but instead manufacture their products from environmentally friendly, resource-saving materials and produce sustainably in Europe under fair working conditions. And fortunately there are more and more consumers who value sustainable products.
We, Jessi and Steffi from "Hoofment", pursue a holistically sustainable and transparent concept with our company for sustainable equestrian fashion - from the materials, through production, to packaging and shipping. We only use sustainable materials from renewable raw materials or from recycling processes. Our products are durable and of high quality. They are made without the use of toxic chemicals. We pay attention to fair working conditions and work closely with our producers and material suppliers. There are on-demand and no-waste products in our shop. We are happy to offer a repair service for our products. We have our goods produced in Europe and ship them in a sustainable shipping box with DHL Go Green. We keep ourselves informed to make our company even more sustainable and are in regular contact with other sustainable companies. We want to create a movement in equestrian sport for more sustainability - a movement on hooves: Hoofment. And now we have an incredibly great community that shares our values.
Tips for sustainable fashion consumption:
There are many ways that each individual can contribute to more sustainable fashion. Here are some possibilities:
- Buy consciously: Think about whether you really need every piece of clothing you want to buy. Choose quality over quantity and make sure the clothes will last a long time. Reduce your clothes to a few favorite pieces that you like to wear a lot and that can be easily combined with each other. Start your “capsule wardrobe”, your minimalist wardrobe. And above all: Don't let special offers and discount battles like Black Friday tempt you into making impulse purchases. Only clothing that lasts a long time and is worn frequently is sustainable. Therefore, buy specific clothing that is easy to combine and timeless.
- Appreciate and care for your clothes: Clothes that are well cared for last longer. Fix damaged clothes instead of throwing them away. Use the repair service that some sustainable companies already offer when you buy your clothes . You may also be able to upcycle a piece of clothing, upgrade it by reworking it into a new useful item. For example, an old sweater that you no longer want to wear because it has lost its shape can be made into a hat or legwarmers, for example.
- Wash your clothes gently and at low temperatures. Let them air dry instead of using a dryer.
- Buy second-hand fashion: Second-hand clothing is a great way to conserve resources and reduce waste. There are many great thrift stores and online platforms where you can find quality clothing at great prices.
- Borrowing instead of buying: Clothing does not necessarily have to be bought. You might find something to borrow from friends or a shop, for example for a specific occasion such as a party or carnival. Or you can take part in a swap party or organize one yourself.
- Avoid animal materials such as leather, fur, down, silk and wool.
Support sustainable fashion labels: There are more and more fashion companies that produce clothing sustainably by paying attention to environmentally friendly materials, resource-saving production methods and fair working conditions. By supporting these companies, you can help reduce the textile industry's impact on the environment. As a consumer, you have the responsibility and the power to change something. You should use this chance.
But look closely: At first glance, it is often difficult to see whether a product or a company is really sustainable. Take a closer look at the company or their website:
- Is your corporate strategy really sustainable?
- Are the products actually made of environmentally friendly, resource-saving materials? Are the materials made from renewable raw materials or recycling processes?
- Does the company value transparency?
- Can you see the supply chain for each product? Is the product sustainably produced in Europe and does it therefore have short supply chains?
It's a bit of a hassle to find out more. But once you are sure that you can buy really sustainable clothing from a fashion label, the effort has been worth it and you can order there again in the future with a clear conscience.
Read our blog post “Live sustainably – 8 simple tips for consuming sustainably” on this topic. https://hoofment.de/blogs/news/lebe-nachhaltig-8-leichte-tipps-nachhaltig-zu-verbrauchieren
One thing is certain: the market for sustainable clothing is growing. Sustainability in the fashion industry is and will remain important. But it is up to each and every one of us to make the right decision when buying, not to be tempted by fast fashion offers and to think carefully about what we really need. The goal we all have to be: Avoiding waste instead of shopping madness and overproduction. For us it is an absolute matter of the heart to make the consumption of clothing more conscious.
EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles:
European Green Deal: Climate neutrality by 2050: https://www.destatis.de/Europa/DE/Thema/GreenDeal/GreenDeal.html
European Commission – EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles: