Sustainability Pulse #12

Sustainability Trends & News Worth Exploring — October 25

Good morning

Welcome back to another Sustainability Pulse!

If you want sustainable clothes, focus on the farms

Regenerative farming is trending in fashion, but does it get to the root of the clothing industry's problem?

These days, you might notice more brands than ever flouting “sustainable,” “organic,” or “natural” fabrics in their product line-up—but clothing can be easily greenwashed. One recent study by Changing Markets Foundation, a circular economy campaigning firm, found that more than half of the environmental claims made by fashion giants like Zara, H&M, and Uniqlo were “unsubstantiated.” Even brands who tout their sustainability, like Reformation and Levi’s, fell into the “could do better” category when it came to the use of fossil-fuel-based textiles like polyester.

Now, a new type of sustainable fashion has hit the headlines, this time focusing on how fabric materials are grown. Recent brands, including Eileen Fisher, Stella McCartney, Christy Dawn, and Kering Luxury Group, which contains high-end brands like Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen, have ventured into the realm of regenerative agriculture to promote a more sustainable fashion experience.

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Why garment labels will unlock a more sustainable fashion industry

Garment labels are an essential component of clothing; the symbols used in the care labeling system were first introduced in 1963 and standardized labels came in at around the same time, as clothing started to be commercially made out of synthetic fibers. More than 50 years later, not much has changed. Clothing labels are not standardized by brands, when it comes to giving the consumer information about where garments came from and how to recycle them. But in the age of technology, how has the simple garment label not already been redesigned? Luckily, organizations and brands are now incorporating data to create the next generation of garment labels.

In a report conducted by Avery Dennison, a multinational label manufacturer, and the Global Web Index, an audience targeting company, the focus is on giving consumers information on garments.

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Ethical fashion report collars Australian brands over environment and workers’ rights

Baptist World Aid Australia gave several major local fashion names a mixed report card.

Major Australian department store chain Myer is disputing its poor grading in an ethical fashion assessment which found the company is falling short when it comes to reducing its environmental impact and ensuring its supply chains are free of modern-day slavery.

Other major Australian names such as Bardot, RM Williams and Quicksilver also received failing grades in the same categories in this year’s Ethical Fashion Report by the Baptist World Aid Australia.

The report assessed the ethical practices of 98 Australian, New Zealand and international companies, representing 42o fashion brands.

It is the most comprehensive ethical fashion report for Australia and New Zealand, giving companies a letter grade based on their transparency and demonstrable practices around the treatment of workers and the environment, through extensive surveying, consultation and examination of publicly available materials.

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To shop sustainably for clothing, stop shopping

Even clothing recycling and rental programs don’t reduce CO2 emissions as much as just wearing the clothes you have

While the pandemic certainly gave online shopping a boost, online retailers are also rising in popularitybecause they are well-equipped to quickly pivot between trends, and provide trendy clothing items at a low price point. But an increase in online shopping also means increased waste and carbon emissions.

Global clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, but the number of times a garment is worn has decreased by 36 percent. Even more shockingly, 73 percent of textiles end up discarded in a landfill. Fast fashion, an approach to clothing manufacturing and marketing that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers, has compounded the problem by setting the expectation that something may only be worn once — which is terrible for the environment, considering the impact of manufacturing and shipping clothes.

There is, to put it plainly, way too much clothing being produced. It’s past time to figure out more sustainable practices for reusing or disposing of clothing.

It can be difficult to figure out how to introduce sustainable practices into your wardrobe. Some companies make their clothes from recycled materials — but does this really reduce their impact? And once you have outgrown or over-worn items, is it better to donate clothes to thrift stores or use textile recycling services? According to new research from LUT University in Finland, the best way to shop sustainably is simply to buy less.

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