Written by Jemima Glentworth
An Introduction into the Fashion Industry and Recycling
The fashion industry is a source of creativity, innovation, and practicality that not just allows us all to identify and express ourselves through our clothing, but it also provides functional fashion and equipment that helps optimise our time when in the outdoors, partaking in sporting activities and enjoying leisure time. The industry is worth a booming 26 billion in the UK, providing 800,000 jobs, making it the UK’s biggest creative industry. Globally, the fashion industry is worth 1.5 trillion US dollars, and it is expected to grow to 2.5 trillion US dollars by 2025.
However, our current fast fashion economy produces an unimaginable amount of waste and is the main contributor to the fashion industry’s large environmental footprint. For example, if fashion were to be a country, it would have the 4th biggest carbon footprint globally. A drastic change needs to be made for fashion to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly, and recycling materials can make a small, but impactful difference by directly reducing waste and emissions.
Fashion Wastage and Virgin Materials
A large contributor to the environmental crisis is the amount of waste produced by the consumers and creators of fashion as it is estimated that on average 35% of materials in the supply chain are wasted before even reaching the consumer. In today’s society, new garments are bought and thrown away now more than ever with £140 million worth of clothing going to landfills each year. This constant need for new apparel comes at a terrifying cost as textile production is responsible for more carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
One of the most used textiles in the fashion industry is virgin polyester. It contributes to 60% of the world’s clothing especially within sportswear as it is used for its moisture-wicking properties and elasticity. Although great for outdoor and sportswear garments, polyester is incredibly damaging to the environment as it is oil-based, non-biodegradable and highly water and carbon-intensive.
The Downside of Cheap and Quick
The use of cheap synthetic fibres in fast fashion clothing and fabrics such as acrylic and polyester has also led to an increase of microfibres and microplastics in our marine environments, damaging our marine life and becoming part of our food chain.
Processing other raw virgin material such as cotton, is extremely water intensive with 1 pound of cotton requiring a shocking total of 173 gallons of water to produce. Using recycled materials, instead of new virgin materials will contribute to the reduction of waste in the production and manufacturing of fashion.
The Benefits of Recycling
As the world is waking up to the damaging effects of the fashion industry, fashion brands are now finding innovative new ways of recycling materials to help combat waste, save energy, minimise pollution and reduce carbon emissions. Trusted companies such as Econyl and Repreve produce recycled polyester using post-consumer landfill and marina waste that would otherwise be wasted or sent to landfill such as recycled nylon fishing nets and plastic bottles.
Another solution to sustainable textile production is the bluesign® system. The bluesign® award system assures the consumer that the garment has been manufactured in an environmentally safe way. The bluesign® system has five main principles: resource productivity, consumer safety, water emission, air emission and occupational health and safety. This ensures the textiles being created are free of harmful substances, have been made in a safe environment and the manufacturing process has used lower air and water emissions.
Recycled down is also another way of combating waste and reducing carbon emissions. Recycled down is sourced from old bedding, cushions and other items that can not be sold, that would otherwise end up in landfills. It has the same benefits as virgin down, but it takes 31% less CO2 emissions per kilogram when using recycled down to virgin.
Textile recycling is critical to the fight against climate change as it reduces the need to extract raw materials. Textile recycling is a process where old textiles and garments are gathered and broken down into new fibres which can then be reused and turned into new clothing. Producing recycled polyester also saves energy in the manufacturing processes up to 50% compared to virgin polyester, and recycled cotton also reduces the amount of energy, water and dye as the product has already been processed.
We understand how important the fight against climate change is and we are extremely dedicated to bringing recycled and sustainable brands to our customers, providing them with a place where they can buy high quality and environmentally conscious apparel.
Some of our recycling certifications include The Global Recycle Standard (GRS) and The Recycled Claim Standard (RCS). Both are international, voluntary standards that set requirements for third-party certification of recycled input and chain of custody, both verifying recycled content in products. The GRS verifies that the recycled content of their products that claim good working conditions and a reduction of harmful environmental and chemical impacts are truthful and up to standard. We also stock hundreds of items that are recyclable or contain recycled content.
Country Attire is committed to reducing overall emissions. The website stocks a wide range of sustainable products made with recycled content which reduces our indirect ‘scope 3’ carbon footprint emissions and waste.
With more new and innovative ways of incorporating recycled content into our fashion and more brands wanting to lower their carbon footprint, there does seem to be hope for an ever more increasing sustainable fashion industry. By reducing the need for virgin materials, slowing down the giant that is fast fashion, and finding new ways of turning our waste into sustainable clothing, we hope that a change in our habits will drastically reduce the negative impact the industry has on the environment, and provide a better and more sustainable future for all.
Our extensive sustainable shopping range contains a wide variety of clothing and accessories to easily source items that match your style and that are kinder to the planet.
If you would like to know more about sustainability and environmental concerns within the fashion industry, we have a wide collection of informative and compelling blogs you can check out here!