Importance of Sustainability in the Apparel Industry
-By Tushar Soliwal
Department of Textiles (Fashion Technology)
DKTE’S Textile and Engineering Institute, Ichalkaranji, India
Nowadays, sustainability is becoming an important part in apparel industry. Manufactures as well as customers are mainly focusing on sustainability and its significant becoming in crucial point while buying selling of goods. Consumers are becoming more conscious while purchasing the goods. As we know, the apparel and textile industries are among the most polluting industries in the global world. These industries are responsible for different types of pollution like water pollution, air pollution, greenhouse and harmful gas emission in the environment. So, due to the harmful impact on the environment, sustainability is a crucial point in the manufacturing industry. In the garment manufacturing process a huge amount of waste is generated, thus eliminating and minimizing these various wastes throughout the manufacturing of goods is become an important point to consider. In this article, we will discuss the importance of sustainability in the apparel industry. Sustainability plays a critical role in an eco-friendly environment which impacts the clothing production system, improves working conditions at the workplace, and serves ethical practices through the production of goods, the use and application of eco-friendly material and manufacturing systems provide a sustainable workplace in the manufacturing organization. Sustainability in the manufacturing system deals with reducing waste, recycling of wastages, reusing dead resources, and recovering the material. This 4R of sustainability builds a strong sustainable system in apparel industries. So what is meant by Sustainability? ‘It is everything that leads to an integrated with human life, which is related with present and future, within a civilized framework that preserves and develops the environment’ . Now so many developed countries and developing countries are stared to adopt the various principles of sustainability to support the environment and the lifestyle of society.
Five Ways Manufacturers Can Reduce Their Environmental Impact
Everyone in society, are concerned about the environmental impact due to pollution and hazardous waste. The environmental impact due to the textiles and apparel industries is long-term and dangerous to the people living around these manufacturing industries. So some suggestions are made for the substantial benefits and improvement. The following diagram shows the ways that textile makers can help the industry advance.
Social and Environmental Injustice Due to the Apparel Industry
In the growing market the first fashion impact on fashion trends and fashion forecasting, due to this fast fashion different garments are getting available widely at a cheaper cost, and these garments are skyrocketing the manufacturing process. So as a result this fast fashion impact on the life cycle of the garment starting from the conversion of material into finished goods. The manufacturing process of garments creates an obstacle to sustainability . Let’s discuss how the apparel industries affect social and environmental conditions.
1. Pollution due to the manufacturing process: In the global market, almost 20% of water-based is generated due to the fashion industry. It also contributes to 8% emission of greenhouse gases per year. This percentage is highly responsible for air pollution and water pollution and also affects the human. According to U.N.E.P. (United Nations Environment Program) in the textile products like garments and apparel accessories contain 60% of non-sustainable products and raw materials, which includes plastics, acrylic, polyesters, nylons, microplastic material, and others. These are used to manufacture the garments to create them as light will durable and cheaper for apparel goods. This types of non-degradable material pollute the environment and also creates harm to the animals.
2. Waste generated due to the industry: According to the report of the United nation alliance for sustainable fashion, by every second textile industries generate/landfilled/burn textile waste which is equivalent to one garbage truck. This is responsible for the impact of waste on the environment. According to this report, 85% of textiles are destroyed within the environment, this type of waste we can reuse or recycle to take a step toward Sustainability.
3. Unsafe working conditions in manufacturing industries: In apparel industries, many workers are working under one roof. These workers have to deal with hazardous chemicals, toxic gases, polluted water, and chemicals that further create health issues like infection in the body, heart disease, lung disease, regulation problems, and many more. So a healthy and safe environment is very essential in the manufacturing industries. Sustainability is also a part of a healthy and safe environment.
Importance of Sustainability in the Apparel Industry
Sustainability has become a part of manufacturing industries, as manufacturers focus on sustainable things which improves the reputation of the organization in the competitive market. In India,sustainable development is a new term in the gobble market that is the most common and familiar word in the manufacturing world. By adopting sustainable practices throughout the manufacturing process we can reduce the environmental impact, promote ethical practices in the competitive marketplace, and provide sustainable goods to the end consumer.
There are so many reasons and evidence, which explain the importance of sustainability in day-to-day life. There were three pillars which include environmental sustainability, economic sustainability, and social sustainability which difference the importance of sustainability in the social life of living things. There was a list of reasons why we have to initiate and adopt the principles of sustainability. Many social communities, industrial groups, and individuals are taking a step towards the use of sustainability in their supply chain management. Sustainability is a thing that motivates the buyer, manufacturer, and end consumer to buy goods that are not harmful to the environment. As we care about the next generation. So, we must have to focus on sustainable things. Every activity’s policies and behaviours directly or indirectly affect the environment which shares the value of Sustainability through consumer choice. The greener alternatives are the best solution to save the environment .
Some textile and apparel brands that started a manufacturing process by adopting sustainability are as…
- Stella McCartney
- People Tree
- Nudie Jeans
- Eileen Fisher
These are a few examples of apparel brands that prioritize sustainability in their manufacturing processes. There are so many other brands out there that also focus on sustainable practices and offer environmentally friendly products .
Step towards Sustainable Practices and some key strategies used in apparel industries:
- Eco-friendly Materials: By the use of eco-friendly materials in the manufacturing of goods we can initiate the step of sustainability. This is the most changeling step in the appeal industry. Manufacturing goods starting from raw materials to finished goods plays a vital role to save the environment and also earns a specific category of loyal consumers. These materials must grow using less water and reduce the use of harmful chemicals in the production process.
- Circular Economy Approach: The adoption of a circular economy approach is another vital aspect of sustainability in the apparel industry. The circular economy simply means the application of the 4Rs. This includes the design of goods by considering the point of recyclability in mind, manufacturers as well as consumers have to focus on reuse and repair, as well as the recycling of textile waste.
- Water and Energy Conservation: Apparel companies must use various strategies to reduce water and energy consumption. Apparel industries have to focus on the optimization of manufacturing processes, which further includes improving dyeing techniques, and investing in wastewater treatment plants to minimize the use of water resources. Additionally, energy-efficient technologies like wind energy, energy from biogas,and renewable energy sources like solar systems are being embraced to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Fair Labor Practices: Fair working conditions are fundamental to sustainability in the apparel industry. Some apparel brands are now working on improving wages, providing safe working conditions, and ensuring fair treatment to workers. To build a strong supply chain. This work is essential to achieve third-party certifications, such as Fair Trade and SA8000 and other.
- Transparency and Ethical Sourcing: Transparent supply chains are crucial for ensuring ethical sourcing practices. The end customers are demanding more information about the products, like the origins of raw materials, the manufacture of goods, and the conditions under which they are made. Hence the companies have to respond to them by disclosing their supply chain information about the goods, and services, the actual working conditions, and the relationships with suppliers. To improve Labor conditions in the organization conducting regular audits to ensure compliance with social and environmental standards is very important .
Benefits of Sustainability in the Apparel Industry
The adoption of sustainable practices in the apparel industry has several benefits, these benefits serve both for the environment and the organization
- Environmental Benefits: Sustainable practices reduce the industry’s impact on natural resources, such as water, air, animals, and land. They also minimize pollution and waste generation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions rate.
- Business Opportunities: Sustainability offers opportunities for companies to innovate and differentiate themselves in the apparel market. Nowadays the consumer is demanding for sustainable products, and they are attracted by the companies that will provide eco-friendly and ethically sourced clothing. Moreover, the adoption of sustainable practices can lead to cost savings, such as reduced energy and water consumption, and other benefits. This business opportunity pervades efficient and string SCM for the apparel industries .
- Brand Reputation: Sustainability is an important factor in building brand reputation and trust among consumers. As we have seen above many apparel brands are now focusing on sustainable fashion and the manufacturing process. This activity improves the overall brand reputation in the global apparel market.
- Social Impact: By the use of sustainable practices in the apparel industry can have a positive social impact. They can improve the overall working conditions, promote fair wages, and supporting local communities and earn profits and other objectives. Hence the companies can contribute to poverty alleviation and social development by stronger their supply chain .
The apparel industry plays a significant role in the global economy, but this industry has also been associated with numerous environmental and social challenges. The importance of sustainability in the apparel industry cannot be overstated. By adopting sustainable practices, the apparel industry can reduce its environmental footprint, ensure fair treatment of workers, and meet the growing demand for eco-friendly products. The shift towards sustainability offers various benefits and opportunities. To secure a profitable and healthy future, the apparel industry must continue to prioritize sustainability and its applications.
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Founder & Editor of Textile Learner. He is a Textile Consultant, Blogger & Entrepreneur. He is working as a textile consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.