Businesses must have a social mission— it's why employees join their enterprises— it's why consumers buy their products and services. Standing for a social mission inspires. It enables companies with a sense of purpose and vision.
In the wake of COVID19 and the fast-changing times, consumers are becoming more conscious of what they purchase. We've entered an era where sustainability evangelism is no longer relevant. The brand's mission and sociocultural efforts are only a matter of a few google searches, and conscious shoppers will look into it.
Consumers are supporting brands demonstrating bold green visions. These frontrunners are taking green initiatives and fulfilling them word by word. Quietly getting about their mission, not screaming about what they're doing to make a difference. It may seem like a muted cultural shift. But the sound is becoming increasingly deafening with every passing day, challenging newer brands to up their sustainability efforts.
But a handful of pioneers cannot do it alone– the entire fashion industry has to make changes.
There is no one-size-fits-all remedy. In addition to improving how we shop/ sell garments and discard them, we need new innovative materials and strategies for returning and recycling old fibers, and finding less detrimental methods of creating something new.
Here, we discuss six ways fashion brands can make headway on the problem, the different ways that will empower not just organizations but everyone to start embracing sustainable fashion.
Single Material Clothing/Products
The primary concern of the fashion industry is the manufacturing of garments with assorted fabrics. It's most often the poly-cotton that doesn't break down or decompose. One of the ways fashion brands and houses can make changes is by producing garments made out of single material - preferably natural fibers. Natural fabrics such as organic cotton and wool can be decomposed and recycled. Fashion brands must put in the picture the entire article of clothing, not just the main fabric. This means considering the clothing's terminal phase as well. If we're at the stage where apparel is produced and designed with shelf-life in mind, we will be capable of breaking them down and repurposing them without chafing the environment.
At Terra Thread, all of our products are made of 100% Organic Cotton. All of the accessories, such as zippers and fasteners, are lead-free.
- Recycling Clothes
Clothing items are manufactured and treated in the same way, be it fast fashion or slow fashion. But slow fashion stands to reason because the lifespan of the clothing sustains. Meanwhile, fast-fashion survives for a brief duration and is ultimately unsustainable. A truly conscious transition would be thinking about the source of origin and streamlining the decisions within the lifespan of the product. Textile landfills are packed to the rafters! The fashion industry generates far too much, which cannot be sold, resulting in mounting heaps of unworn stock and the burning of unsellable clothing items. Large fabric and apparel industries rely primarily on fossil fuels for producing energy, releasing about 23 kgs of GHGs for every kilogram of fabric production. To address this, fashion brands must mindfully produce and avoid overproduction. Sustainable manufacturing processes may be marginally more expensive. But they can drive innovation and prevent inflationary pressures and brand image consequences, leading to increased adaptability and profit returns. Fashion brands also require traceable clothing labels and verified buyback programs with third-party certifications. Consumers can be confident that brands' practices are being inspected objectively and eco-social causes are taken into account with verification from experts. They can rest assured knowing that the product is safe to use and does not contribute to climate change. This is the time to be inquisitive where fashion is offering the safest and the best. Otherwise, brands will jeopardize their organization, and the planet won't keep going. Fashion brands must find something which we can use for the longest time possible.
Once the Terra Thread bag is no longer usable, we encourage you to recycle or compost at an industrial composting. You also encourage you to recycle the zippers and other metal accessories separately.
- Productive Materials and Smart Techniques
Practicing the supply-and-demand model can help minimize textile waste and decrease the ecological footprint of the fashion industry. Technological advances in the agricultural production of natural fibers can help regulate soil nutrient management, convert cotton fields into carbon sinks, eliminate chemical fertilizers, and decrease water usage. Speaking of water— using environmentally friendly dyeing techniques that use less water is also another smart way to reduce the use of water.
The fashion industry has a massive impact on the environment. Being 100% sustainable as a brand can be incredibly challenging as business operations will inflict damage in some way or the other. So, we must experiment with a smarter approach to alter how we participate in the environment. If brands deal with raw materials that don't organically grow on farms, semi-natural resources are the next best target. One brilliant example is repurposing ghost fishing nets by harvesting them naturally and repurposing them as high-quality wear. Introduced by Aquafil in 2011, Econyl is now a smart material that several conscious brands across the industry are utilizing— Outerknown, Girlfriend Collective, Volcom (among others).
We are always looking to innovate how our products are made and how our factories are operated. We understand that our products have an impact on the environment; hence we are supporting carbon offset projects and going Carbon Neutral. Our products are also shipped plastic-free to our customers.
Address The Social Implications of Fashion
Fashion industry is known for sweatshops, labor exploitation, hiring minor workers, etc. Plus, workers are also underpaid, overworked, and subjected to hazardous working conditions or health risks. Fashion alone employs 75 million factory workers all around the world. But a majority of them do not even get the minimum wage, let alone make a living wage. The poor work conditions and unfair labor treatment are heartbreaking. Women and girls from India's most marginalized communities, for example, get paid 15 cents per hour. Factory workers frequently live in areas where waterways have been contaminated by chemicals used in textile industries, risking health and mortality rates on a daily basis.
Fortunately, many fashion brands are now working to improve working conditions for textile workers. Brands now encourage safe and sound labor contracts and offer health insurance, living wages, overtime pay, and other perks and bonuses. These uplifting initiatives need to pollinate the entire industry to lift the marginalized groups.
Terra Thread bags are made with Fairtrade Organic Cotton and manufactured at a Fair Trade Certified Factory. Our farmers receive a premium for their cotton, while our factory workers receive a premium for the products they make.
- The Need For Transparency
Traceability throughout the supply chain is crucial to accomplishing a circular fashion industry. Every stage of the process must be traceable– from the raw materials used, quality control, chemicals added, product disposal, as well as the broader societal factors involved.
While executing operations locally can be the most effective way to reduce ecological impact, sometimes it's a matter of perfecting your supply chain. With international supply chains, the strategy must be to locate the most sustainable alternative with collaborative efforts on the green agenda within an enterprise.
We source our cotton from family farmers in India. We pre-finance them to purchase NON-GMO seeds and even purchase their cotton in advance so that the farmers do not have to sit with unsold inventory. We also recently helped transition over 700 farmers to Regenerative Organic Cotton.
- GOTS Certification
Complete supply-chain transparency is a long battle, and until then, becoming a GOTS certified brand is the next best thing for fighting fast fashion. Having GOTS label means that the product is made of at least 70% certified organic fibers and having GOTS organic label means that the product is made of at least 90% certified organic fibers. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is a golden credential for fabrics that have been sustainably handled. The certification label is how you can protect your fashion choices and prevent being a victim of greenwashing. Many consumers are subjected to Greenwashing due to a lack of fabric manufacturing and dying process transparency from fashion brands. Switching to sustainable fashion means enjoying the product without jeopardizing the qualities, all while being well informed of the product and its source origin.
Terra Thread products are made with 100% organic cotton and proudly have the GOTS organic label.
- Progressive Changes
An army of cognizant consumers is on the rise, taking over the fashion market. Brands must achieve a state of progressiveness based on sustainability, transparency, authenticity, and customer-centricity or risk missing out. Meeting environmental standards and consumer expectations has and will never be more important than it is now.
The fashion industry is huge, harboring a massive potential to be a catalyst for change. Terra Thread, as a conscious brand dedicated to doing our part, offers sustainable bags and accessories that give back.