Sustainability - Industry Issues

The time to act is now. As individuals, communities and businesses, we play an integral role in reducing harmful activities that pollute and contribute to climate change. At ZANEROBE, we’re addressing our impact at every level of operations with the aim to achieve an ethical, zero waste supply chain. We strive to deliver high-quality, durable, sustainable and low-impact products in every collection we produce.

There’s conjecture between scientists, academics and conservationists as to the global impact fashion has on the environment1. From the 2nd largest polluting industry to ‘in the top 10’, what’s universally accepted is that the process of producing garments is intensive, placing significant strain on our natural resources. Whilst negative externalities can’t be totally eliminated, there are many ways to reduce them. Understanding the industry and current issues allows consumers to make a more informed decision of which sustainably-focussed brands to support and what steps we can take as individuals.

WATER

The $2.5 trillion-dollar fashion industry is the second highest user of water worldwide2, producing 20 percent of global water waste. The production of one cotton shirt requires 2700 litres – the amount a person drinks in 2.5 years. Producing one pair of jeans uses nearly 4,000 litres of water and globally we produce 6 billion units of denim annually3.

SOLUTIONS

• Shop less, purchase vintage.
• Purchase better quality.
• Launder less, aerate & spot-clean.
• Look for recycled fibre clothing.
• Choose fabrics with low water consumption eg. linen.

POLLUTION

Processes like bleaching or use of fabric softening chemicals can often be discharged into our waterway systems. But textile dyeing is the biggest offender in the fashion industry, the 2nd worst of all industries4, accounting for 200,000 tons of dyes lost to effluents per annum. 23% of all chemicals produced worldwide are used for the textile industry.5.

SOLUTIONS

• Choose organic and/or natural fibers that do not require chemicals to be produced.
• Choose clothes made in countries with stricter environmental regulations for factories.

FABRIC POLLUTANTS

Washing clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles6. Many of those fibres are polyester, a plastic found in an estimated 60% of garments. Producing polyester releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton, and polyester does not break down in the ocean.

SOLUTIONS

• Shop less, purchase vintage.
• Purchase better quality.
• Launder less, aerate & spot-clean.
• Look for recycled fibre clothing.
• Choose fabrics like linen.

LANDFILL

On average, 35% of all materials in the production of garments as waste before reaching the final consumer. The average person buys 60% more items of clothing in 2020 than twenty years ago, but each garment is kept for half as long. 10% of discarded clothing is recycled, 8% re-used as second hand clothing, but 57% is sent to landfill.7.

SOLUTIONS

• Choose natural or semi-synthetic fibers when purchasing.
• Use a washing bag that traps micro-plastics when laundering.

CO2 EMMISSIONS

The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50% by 20308. Apparel and footwear together accounted for more than 3,990 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2018, total greenhouse gas emissions equal to 1.2 billion tons annually9. The current climate warming trend is most likely the result of human activity since the mid-20th century10.

SOLUTIONS

• Choose natural fibers.
• Buy less, better quality, take better care & mend your clothes.
• Purchase clothes made locally.
• Avoid fast-fashion brands.
• Buy clothes made in countries powered by more renewable energy.
• Look for vintage alternative.

FABRIC TYPES

Specific fabric types are more intensive or polluting than others. The traditional production of cotton as an example, requires greater irrigation needs compared to all other crops, is chemically sprayed the most, and is responsible for the largest amount of deforestation. It takes 10,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton, approx 2,700 litres to make a standard t-shirt11.

SOLUTIONS

• Ensure you choose organic cotton made from non-GMO seeds, needs less water and doesn’t use pesticides, insecticides or fertilizers.
• Look for garments made from recycled cotton.

Synthetics such as polyester, nylon and acrylic, are plastic-based materials that use very little water to produce and no agricultural land. However, man-made fibres are dependent on the petrochemical industries which are heavy fossil fuel extractors12. In addition, regular domestic washing of synthetics release approx 1,900 inidividual micro-plastic fibres into our water systems, an estimated 190,000 tons annually, and ingested by marine life13.

• Purchase garments made from recycled polyester, nylon or acrylic, either from reconstituted clothing or materials like plastic bottles diverted from landfill.
• Buy from brands that clearly disclose the type of synthetic fabrics used.

Animal-based materials, wool, leather and fur, have both positive and negative impacts depending on what is used and how it was produced. Protein-based fibres, such as wool, accounts for 2% of textile use and safely biodegrades. But leather-based products account for huge methane emissions with livestock accounting for 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse gases14.

• Try and avoid buying leather products entirely due to it’s high pollutants levels.
• Look for recycled or sustainable wool options.
• Avoid real fur, there’s better alternatives far less impactful.

1. https://ecocult.com/now-know-fashion-5th-polluting-industry-equal-livestock/
2. https://unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/RCM_Website/RFSD_2018_Side_event_sustainable_fashion.pdf
3. https://www.ecowatch.com/environmental-cost-jeans-2544519658.html
4. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/how-the-fast-fashion-industry-destroys-the-environment/
5. https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/old-environmental-impacts
6. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10?r=US&IR=T
7. https://www.commonobjective.co/article/fashion-and-waste-an-uneasy-relationship
8. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2019/09/23/costo-moda-medio-ambiente
9. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/earth-day-2019-fashion-industrys-carbon-impact-is-bigger-than-airline-industrys/
10. https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
11. https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/consumption/clothing/cotton-farming-water-consumption/story
12. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/fabrics-environment-fast-fashion-eco-friendly-pollution-waste-polyester-cotton-fur-recycle-a8963921.html
13. https://www.sustainyourstyle.org/old-environmental-impacts
14. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/fabrics-environment-fast-fashion-eco-friendly-pollution-waste-polyester-cotton-fur-recycle-a8963921.html