Trends within the fashion industry are continuously changing, evolving, and developing. However, in recent years the latest trend has not been based on style, colour, or patterns. It has been the concept of sustainable fashion and ethical clothing. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, after oil. Textile waste, carbon dioxide emissions, water consumption, and unethical labour are just a few of the criticisms aimed at the fashion industry.
- 400% more clothes are produced now compared to 20 years ago
- The quantity of clothing entering the EU per person has increased by 40%
- An average of 20 pieces of clothing per person are being manufactured each year
- 85% of all textiles end up in landfills every year
- 50% of fast fashion is disposed of within a year
- Every week the UK sends 11 million items of clothing to landfill
- £140 million worth of clothing is disposed of at landfill sites each year
- Consumers purchase 60% more clothing every year
- Currently, only 20% of all clothing is recycled
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of fast fashion on the planet. Resulting in the increase of sustainable and rental fashion to ensure their wardrobes are as eco-friendly as possible. With this growing concern, pressure upon businesses’ to move towards more sustainable methods has increased. However, this leads to questions such as “what is sustainable fashion?” and “what is the future of the fashion industry?”.
Fast fashion developed through the ever-increasing demands of the fashion conscious, viral, and social media trends. As instant gratification becomes more important the idea of having good quality and brand-focused items has diminished. The fashion industry represents one of the largest polluters globally. Therefore, resulting in increased pressure for companies to change their business models.
What does Sustainable Fashion mean?
“Sustainability” is defined as “Avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”. In terms of fashion, only using resources that the planet can naturally replace and not produce things that the planet can’t naturally reabsorb. With regards to a circular economy, it is made up of a more linear model. Make the clothing as cheaply as possible, with the intention of short-term use, “take, make, dispose”.
In contrast, sustainable clothing considers the full lifecycle of the product. Including the design, sourcing, whole production process, packaging, delivery, workers, and consumers. Sustainable fashion is often described as “an all-inclusive term describing the product, process, and activities to achieving a carbon-neutral fashion industry, built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity”.
The main considerations when looking into sustainability and fashion are:
- Water consumption and contamination
- Chemical usage
- Energy emissions
These should be considered for all stages of the lifecycle of a garment including production through to cleaning and maintaining the garment. Sustainable fashion should focus on changing the way people consume entirely. Meaning wearing what we already own, thrifting, renting, mending, upcycling, and washing with care.
Impact On The Environment
Water Use & Pollution
93 billion metric tons of clean water are used within the fashion industry annually. This equates to enough water to meet the needs of 5 million people. It takes 10,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton or approximately 3,000 liters of water for one cotton shirt. The cotton used for one pair of jeans requires almost 2000 gallons of water. In addition to a cotton shirt that requires 2700 liters. Furthermore, textile dyeing requires toxic chemicals that subsequently end up in our oceans. Leading to approximately 20% of industrial wastewater pollution worldwide.
Additionally, 500,000 tons of microfibers are released into the ocean each year from washing clothes. This is the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. Of this 60% of those fibres are polyester that does not decay in the ocean. In fact, 35% of all microplastics in our oceans are from synthetic materials. Microplastics harm marine life, as well as birds and turtles. One study has even found these plastics in human blood and food from when animals have ingested them.
Research has found that the textile industry uses more than 20,000 chemicals. Approximately, half of all textiles are made from cotton, which is one of the dirtiest crops. Therefore, when grown it requires the largest percentage of chemicals. Around 25% of the world’s insecticides and 18% of the world’s pesticides. This further pollutes the soils and water that runs off from cotton fields, causing eutrophication and algal blooms. The cotton required to make a t-shirt requires on average 17 teaspoons of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
The fashion industry has a large carbon footprint, accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions. This equates to 1.2 million metric tons of CO2 each year. Reports show if this continues the percentage could increase to 26% by 2050. In 2018, the textile industry created more greenhouse gas emissions than the carbon produced by France, Germany, and the UK combined.
The fashion industry is heavily reliant on fossil fuels. Almost 70% of all clothing is made from polyester or other synthetic fabrics from non-renewables like crude oil. Manufacturing is often coal-powered, plastic for packaging and hangers as well as distribution across the world which requires petrol.
Be Sustainable With Lindström
In order for the fashion industry to really become more sustainable, brands need to work towards developing circular solutions. Whereby garments become fully recyclable after use. Lindström has practiced and promoted sustainable ways of working for decades. In 2021:
- 9 million items of workwear in circulation
- 36% of textile waste is recycled
- 5 million textiles repaired
- 193,300 tons of textiles washed
- 8 million kilos less textile waste every year
We have long practiced good corporate social responsibility with regard to the environment, our employees, and also our customers’ own sustainability aspirations. Our business model is based on a circular economy, to optimise the use of natural resources and avoid overproduction. While making efforts to take care of the environment with our services, we are also improving our cost-efficiency.
We extend the lifetime of textiles and minimise the textiles in our stocks and customer inventories. By using durable materials and designing for circularity, we promote sustainable practices at the very beginning. Furthermore, by repairing and re-using our garments, we avoid millions of kilos of unnecessary textile production.
Conserve Natural Resources
We optimise the use of water and energy in our laundries as well as our customer delivery loads and routes. Lower washing temperatures, shorter process times, and efficient energy use have improved energy efficiency in our laundries. In the washing process, we utilise heat from wastewater to warm fresh water. Then when textiles reach the end of life, we recycle them as new products, as raw material for different industries, or as fibers back to the textile industry.
Move Towards Rental Workwear
Lindström’s rental service is a circular economy solution. Lindström is committed to maintaining the clothes as far as possible. The life cycle of a Lindström work garment is three years on average. During this time the garment is washed 50 times and repaired approximately 6 times. Even the end-of-life disposal is carried out in a sustainable way. Workwear rental is always a greener choice. In the circular economy business model, new clothes are taken only in circulation when needed.
Why Buy When You Can Rent?
When you use our service, we not only acquire the workwear, but we also wash, maintain, repair, renew, and even store it on your behalf. We deliver clean, well-kept clothing weekly, directly to every employee’s locker or another spot of your choosing. That way you can stress less and focus on your actual work.
- Be sure that you have workwear that complies with legislation
- Stay safe with hygienic, protective workwear
- Meet your industry’s challenges and different functionalities
- Feel less stress for both you and the environment
- Save costs and only have the optimal amount of clean, safe, and smart-looking workwear
- Enjoy flexibility with easy amends in workwear for seasonal staff or changes
- Look smart and professional whilst also being comfy
As a workwear rental company, we offer the best solutions for companies and organisations of all sizes and industries. From healthcare, maintenance, retail, automotive, food processing, and heavy metal industries. If you want your employees to look great, feel good, and work better we’re here to help, contact us today.