The meaning of sustainable textiles is, all the processes of production is made of environment friendly, the input and output are healthy and safe for people and to the environment during all the stages of life cycle. Using renewable and recycled sources for production processing of sustainable textiles helps reduce the negative impacts to the environment and also supports millions of workers to earn fair and ensure proper working conditions. In few of my previous articles, I have highlighted the environment footprints of textiles/fashion industry globally and current trajectory of impacts.
The importance and necessity of sustainability in textiles industry or the emergence of environmental awareness arisen post industrial revolution globally from 1750 onwards, due to the mass production and use of synthetic materials. The rise of fast fashion resulted cheaper and faster production and thus the throwaway culture came into existence with increase in waste. From 1950 onwards, the need and importance arisen for environmental protection and sustainable manufacturing practices in global textile & apparel industry, and effectively from 2000 can be marked as the birth of the sustainable fashion as many brands have started adopting sustainable fashion practices such as recycled materials, brands such as H&M, Patagonia and more. Especially from last decade i.e. 2010 onwards sustainability became more popular, in-demand and required by consumers because consumers are more aware about the impact on environment. Thus, this has resulted to adoption of new materials such as Linen, Tencel etc. and also the second-hand clothing industry has also gain demand along with circular economy. Many companies came with unique and innovative solutions into upcycling and recycling of clothing. And from the current decade i.e. 2021 onwards, it is an evolution into sustainable practices such as use of biodegradable materials (hemp and bamboo), 3d printing, circular economy, waterless dyeing, ethical textiles production & sourcing and many more in textiles, clothing and fast as well as luxury fashion, and thus there is a strong demand of sustainable women’s designer dresses and men’s apparel. This is the general timeline of journey of sustainability in global textiles industry, now lets quickly see few of the latest trends in this segment.
Old is becoming new! Many companies and brands, especially jeans and shoes brands have started using plastic bottle (and other scrap and plastic waist) as a raw material for shoes and jeans products. Through an innovative technology, one can swap clothes with others. Many start-ups are manufacturing new clothes from recycling old clothes. These are few of the examples of latest sustainability trends.
Sustainability in packaging. It is an extremely competitive world for brands, since the consumers are demanding more sustainable initiatives and products, the brands have to work hard to meet these challenges and stay ahead of the competition. Apart from the product itself, the packaging materials are also requiring to be sustainable and this is a new trend in the industry. Packaging materials becoming lighter, less materials, eco-friendly, no plastic, 100% recycled and so on… almost all the big brands are adopting and exploring in better sustainable packaging to meet up their sustainability objectives.
Traceability and transparency. For brands and companies just announcing that they are sustainable is not enough, it’s an eco-conscious world and consumers needs a proof, thus it is imperative to build a traceability and transparency into the supply chain, hence consumers can scan and check the history and product data of while lifecycle and certification data. The government of various countries are doing their best in this segment and thus to promote their country’s products. For an example, the government in India is doing through “Make in India” and “Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.
Almost all major brands and manufacturing companies across textile/apparel vale chain are taking initiatives related to sustainability, it does also give them to be promoted as Best Sustainable Brand. However, there is a still much work to be done in all the aspects and the industry should continue to explore for more options to reduce its impact on environment.
This is the last article of this year 2023, happy to have it written on a really very important subject, next year I will keep writing on various such subjects. Wishing all readers and visitors a very happy new year 2024 to you and your loved ones, wishing all a New Year filled with success, good health, and many moments of pure happiness!!!