Sustainability in the Garment Industry

Sustainability in the garment industry can and should mean more than using organic cotton and supplying employees with a better quality work environment. The daily use of energy to power machines, water input and output, and the chemical waste created as a by-product of garment manufacture, all add up to a significant amount. In fact, Green Matters states that there are six main factors that companies need to consider:

  1. Alternative resources — the supplier’s use of sustainable and renewable resources
  2. Chemical management — if the supplier has a Restricted Substances List (RSL) or Manufacturing RSL (MRSL)
  3. Factory transparency list — whether the supplier shares information about the factories it uses
  4. Factory safety — if the supplier is open about their factory safety standards
  5. Water management whether the supplier is working to reduce its water use
  6. Waste and recycling — if the supplier is working to reduce waste and close the loop

In recent times, we have seen a massive shift towards environmentally-friendly methods used in manufacture. It has become a much more feasible and accessible approach to production, because the resources available to brands and businesses is extensive. And now the reasons for not switching over to sustainable manufacture are becoming more and more bleak.

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Consumers demand more today. They no longer want to know, “Is it organic cotton?”
 
Instead, they question, “Are you using illegal pesticides in cotton growth?”
 
The consumer base is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, and it is doing the world a whole lot of good. One important breakthrough, according to Premier Digital Textiles, is the digital textile printing industry. This has become one of the most effective sustainable solutions in textile manufacture. The machinery is smaller than those traditionally used, takes up less space, and utilises a fraction of ink used by regular analogue printing equipment. A standard digital print installation will consume less than 25% of the electricity, 10% of the water, and 5% of the water table pollution compared to the machinery used in the past. To take your conservation a step further, printing on renewable, recycled or organic fabrics will lift your brand to new heights.
 
Sustainable Sourcing is another widely-used practice in the industry. It is the combination of social, ethical and environmental elements into the process of choosing suppliers to source greener fabrics for garment manufacture. More often than not, the goal of sustainable sourcing is to build solid and lasting relationships with suppliers that will provide you with the right materials to fit your brand and aesthetic. The move towards this kind of fabric sourcing increases the demand for innovation by your suppliers. It pushes them to keep trying new methods and integrate ethical practices into production, because ignoring the path to a greener future is the new way forward.
 
What kind of processes have you incorporated into your brand in order to make it as environmentally conscious as it can be? Share a note with us or drop a comment below — we’re always looking to learn about new ways to make the globe greener.
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