Sustainability itself is a very broad topic, which is initially crucial in helping to reduce the effects of climate change on our Earth. In order to achieve sustainability in key industries, production processes need to be redesigned to meet the needs of both consumers and the environment.
In the last 150 years, human activities have been and are likely to continue to be the largest contributor to greenhouse gases, which capture heat in the atmosphere and make the planet warmer, leading to climate change. And the fashion industry has about 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from human activity, in addition to the use of about 93 billion cubic meters of water each year – enough for the needs of five million people. So how can we as individuals help reduce the climate impact of fashion?
Fast fashion numbers
Most of the clothes we buy end up in landfills. average, 10 million tons of clothes end up at landfills every year. This is a staggering amount of waste, not only from the gaseous emissions that are produced in the production process of these clothes, but also from the further emissions that the clothes emit as they decompose. But that’s not all. According to United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), i.e.t takes about 3780 liters of water to produce just one pair of jeans, and one-fifth of global wastewater produced annually comes from the fashion industry.
We’ve been wearing clothes since the dawn of humanity, so why has that become a problem now? This is largely due to the rise of fast fashion. Once new lines and trends were launched seasonally. New trends are now offered to potential buyers every week at a much lower price
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, about 50 billion new clothes were produced in total in 2000. Today, that number has doubled, and the average person today buys 60 percent more clothes than in 2000. Buying more means throwing away more.
With modern technology and cheap materials, fast fashion has become the norm. As consumerism continued to fuel the fashion industry, people began to lean more and more towards fast fashion. And although approximately 72 percent of these garments contain non-biodegradable plastics and synthetic fibers such as polyester, acrylic, nylon, which are made from fossil fuels, they remain in high demand due to their low prices.
One of the negative results of fast fashion is that consumers today prefer quantity to quality, which leads to the proliferation of disposable items that are in landfills around the world. What is particularly worrying is the basic psychology that makes fast fashion addictive. For some, overbought and others materialistic tendencies are connected to reduced life satisfaction, happiness, vitality and social cooperation and increased depression, anxiety, racism and antisocial behavior. According to BBC,, about five percent of the population behaves compulsively when shopping to meet their needs to be accepted by society.
But this is not the whole story. Because fast fashion companies have a number of tactics that they use to encourage us to constantly buy a lot more clothes than they need.
By constantly launching new clothing lines, fashion encourages us to think that whatever clothing we have is constantly “out of fashion” and that we should have something new instead.
The low prices of fast fashion are also intentional. For these businesses, it’s all about volume. But psychologically we tend to give less value to something that is cheap to buy. So if it’s poorly made or wears out quickly, we don’t mind.
So what can be done to make fashion a more sustainable industry?
Sustainable fashion technology
Fashion can really be sustainable – with the right technology.
One aspect of sustainable fashion is the use of biodegradable, healthy and locally produced materials that come with less carbon emissions in their production. By sticking to these products, we can reduce the harmful effects of fashion on the environment and produce longer-lasting clothing that can be recycled and reused over longer periods of time, creating a more circular industry.
Major fast fashion brands, including Sweden-based H&M, have also launched eco-fashion campaigns, even as long as they continue to work on the fast fashion model.
While many designers, brands and scientists are trying to find ways to make fashion more sustainable and circular, another way to turn the tide in the fashion industry may be to use technology and rapidly digitize supply chain near at hand.
To create a piece of clothing, fashion houses tend to require dozens of samples. The use of 3D virtual sampling can eliminate the need for physical sampling and put an end to tissue waste while reducing carbon emissions. Human error also plays an important role in the appearance of excess fabric during the clothing design process, but going through the modeling stage in the digital environment can help designers work with ease with little waste, reduced water use, air pollution and water pollution.
Renewed interest in wearable technology, combined with democratization and declining 3D printer costs, has allowed fashion designers to view 3D printing as another creative environment. From medium fashion brands to high class fashion houses, this industry can benefit a lot from 3D printing.
Fashion designers can turn 3D printing into a playground, where they can try out innovative designs and recyclable clothes. Without restrictions, they can develop their creativity, which leads to exciting works.
Some brands also have used 3D printing to move their designs from the digital environment to the real world. A remarkable example is the famous Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen who had previously made headlines in the fashion world with her experimental haute couture collections that combine traditional design with laser cutting, digital production and 3D printing. Van Herpen is now working with his team to develop sustainable textiles.
Scientists and engineers also use modern technology to create new, updated fabrics that are both environmentally friendly, sustainable and unique. The most notable examples of new fabrics are the faux leather options made with materials such as e.g. cacti, pineapple leaves, apple resin and seaweed fiber. With durable fabrics we could eliminate the need for plastic and non-biodegradable fibers in production. These attractive technological trends may one day become the future of the fashion industry.
Another popular technological development on the fashion scene over the last decade is undoubtedly AI. With AI, fashion brands can easily improve the customer experience, analyze and forecast trends, and even track purchase patterns. AI can also be taught to learn and understand the fashion aesthetics, color, texture and style preferences of buyers. By reading this data, brands can only produce models that are popular with their audience and prevent unnecessary production waste.
Although these technological efforts can help ease the great transition of the fashion industry as a whole, if customer behavior does not change over the next decade, these preventative measures will not have much impact.
By buying fewer clothes, choosing recyclable clothes made from natural materials, keeping them longer, or exchanging clothes with others instead of constantly buying new items, people can do a lot to make fashion more sustainable. The future of fashion relies on innovative thinkers.