Sustainable Options in a World of Textiles

Megan Pociask 

Staff Writer 

The apparel industry is one of the largest markets in the world. In Dec. of 2017, the United States apparel market brought in 23.3 billion dollars through sales from retail shops. 

The textile industry also happens to be one of the most environmentally unfriendly markets in the world and the onset of fast fashion with brands like H&M, Zara, or Forever 21, that does not help its case. 

It takes around 2,700 liters of water to make just one cotton shirt and even more concerning, a polyester shirt creates over double the carbon footprint of its formerly mentioned counterpart. The production of these synthetic fabrics requires crude oil and produces byproducts of toxic gases and chemical waste. 

As creative and exciting as the world of fashion can seem, it can have the most unfortunate ramifications. From the unfair wages, paid to prison and factory workers, to harmful environmental practices, the public has begun to notice and take action. 

In 2013, when over one thousand people died in the Rana Plaza factory collapse, more consumers than ever began looking for ethical and sustainable solutions to satisfy their clothing needs. 

The rising public awareness of this global issue has created a responsive uptake in sustainable practices regarding the textile industry. 

Take for instance that fact that millennials and Gen Z have adopted and grown the trend of thrift shopping 2.5 times faster than the rate at which Baby Boomers and Gen X did. 

Furthermore, the trend of purchasing second hand items has grown 21 times faster than the mainstream apparel market in the last three years. 

Thrift shopping can also have a beneficial impact on the individual consumer. Often, thrifting items results in a fuller wallet. Many second-hand item’s prices are cheap, as well as more durable considering the article of clothing’s long lasting history.

Typically, second-hand buyers also have the advantage of knowing, and therefore trusting, exactly what they’re contributing to and where their money is going.  

The online thrift shop, ThredUp estimates that by 2023, the second-hand market will reach $51 billion and retailers have most certainly taken notice.

Though they’re not thrift shops, multiple vendors like Everlane and Reformation are dedicated to providing fair wages as well as lessening their environmental impact. 

Small batch retailers like Jesse Kamm are also becoming more and more popular. In fact, in her bio, Kamm writes “more is not better, more is just more.”

Categories: Features

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