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How fast fashion can harm the environment

How fast fashion can harm the environment

Mumbai: Nitya Chandrashekhar decided to repurpose a decade-old Banarasi silk dress that her mother had given to her. “The saree had silverwork on the border and it was too precious to give away,” she stated. She upcycled it for her brother’s wedding and it lasted another decade until 2019, when it was gone.

“Every saree, six-seven metre length of cloth, is just a wasteful piece of cloth that is not being used to its full potential. Nitya said that if you are not satisfied with a saree, you can always replace it. IndiaSpend. Nitya is the founder and CEO of Anya Designs in Mumbai, which upcycles sarees to make new clothes. More than 1,000,000 tonnes of textilesIndia throws away a lot of them every year.

Nitya believes we make too much and purchase too much. Therefore, she has adopted a zero waste process in her clothing production to reduce wastage. Many designers are also exploring ways to recycle textile waste into fashion items to change people’s attitudes towards fashion consumption.

This is vital for India. The topFive apparel manufacturing markets One of the topGlobal hubs for fast fashion garment manufacturing that export to Europe and the US. India’s fashion demand is also Growing.

Greenhouse gasThe global textile industry produces more emissions than shipping and international air travel combined.

Each year, the fashion industry produces approximately 53 million tonnes fibre. 70% of that ends up in landfills, while the other 70% is burned. The production of fibre is expected reach 160 million tonnes by 2050. AccordingTo the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a UK-based charity organization that promotes circular economiesThe aims to balance consumption and production by reusing products. According to the foundation, less than 1% of fibres are reused to make new clothes. This represents the loss of billions of dollars in clothes that are not reused or thrown away as waste.

According to the International Fashion Industry, it is also the second largest consumer of water. UN Environment Programme. It takes 3,781 litres waterSimilarThe report stated that this is the amount of water that a person consumes over a three-year period in order to make a pair of jeans. It includes everything from the production of cotton to the retail delivery.

India throws away 1 million tonnes of textiles each year

According to a report by a, India’s textile and apparel industries accounted for nearly 2% of India’s gross domestic product and 14% of industrial production in 2018. Reportco-produced with the Indian Chamber of Commerce

Export is not the only reason for growth in fashion demand. Per capita expenditureAccording to the ICC report apparel will reach Rs 6,400 by 2023 from Rs 3900 in 2018, with rising incomes of middle-class consumers a key factor. India is poised to be one of the most populous countries in the world. most attractive consumer marketsMcKinsey reports that apparel from outside the West is available in India, with more than 300 fashion brands opening stores in India between 2022 and 23.

As we mentioned, India throws away more than 1,000,000 tonnes of textiles each year. Most of this comes from households, according to the Indian Textile Journal. Textiles comprise about 3%By the weight of a household waste bin. Textile waste can also be the third largest sourceIndia’s municipal solid refuse.

2019 saw the launch of the central government project SU.REThe goal of the initiative is to encourage the textile industry towards fashion that helps to clean the environment. Around 16 of India’s top retail brandsAditya Birla Retail, Shoppers Stop, Future group, Lifestyle and Aditya Birla Retail have all committed to sourcing/using a substantial amount of their total consumption using sustainable raw material and processes by 2025. Experts from sustainability initiatives say that India’s fast fashion industry is likely to increase textile waste. Nitya and other designers are trying to be part the solution.

We reached out on December 17 to the Ministry of Textile for their response regarding steps taken to minimize textile waste and promote sustainable clothing. We will update this story as soon as they respond.

Why fast fashion isn’t sustainable

The fashion industry was alive and well in the past. Two seasons in a yearNew collections would be launched in the following seasons: autumn/winter, spring/summer. Manufacturers and designers Would workThey plan collections months in advance and predict what styles customers will want.

This all changed when Zara and H&M, two international fashion brands, pioneered a business model in the 2,000s. 52’microseasons’ were introducedThe new collection is released every week for a year. In the context of these brands, the term “fast fashion” has been used to describe the high rate at which new collections are introduced every week. Fashion consumptionThis is due to the large number of new clothes that are sold, according to the Sustainable Fashion Collective. It is an online resource group that advises companies on how to develop sustainable fashion and textile products.

“Fast fashion was introduced to India six to seven years ago when brands such as Zara and H&M entered Indian markets,” Rekha Rawat, Associate director of Sustainable Industries practice at cKinetics. This sustainability firm, based in Delhi and California, promotes and develops sustainable strategies for industries. “Fast fashion is based upon the idea of creating a false market for new looks so that more clothes can be produced for sale. There is huge waste when clothes are not sold. She explained that unsold clothes end up on garbage dumps and cause a cycle of contamination. “The problem with fast fashion is that not all of the cost is included in the price tag. All the elements of fast fashion, including low quality, low production and competitive pricing, have a negative impact on the environment as well as the people involved in its production.

Rawat said that consumers used to buy durable products, meaning the fabric could be washed 50-80 times. “But now the quality aspects have been overtaken by the excitement for new products or trends. Many of these products are made with synthetic fabrics that are harmful to the environment and are being thrown away. According to a November 2021 report, around 165 companies, mainly fast fashion brands, are responsible in part for 24% of textile and apparel sector emission. ReportBy cKinetics About 68% off clothesBrands like H&M, Gucci, and Gucci use synthetic fibres such as nylon and elastane. Polyester is the most widely used, accounting for around 80%. 52%All fiber production.

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Rawat noted that the process is also very wasteful. “Previously fashion houses would have needed 1,000 yards of fabric in a single color. Now they only need 100 yards in ten different colors. [production] runs. This creates additional pressure on resources such as water and chemicals used in dyeing and treating cloth. Rawat stated that the maximum textile waste is created at factories during cutting and during the manufacturing process for apparel making. This includes leftover fabric scraps.

According to McKinsey, the excess inventory of clothing remained globally during the Covid-19 pandemic due to the sharp fall in sales.ReportIn May 2020.

Upcycling is a way to counter the wasteful fashion industry

Small and large fast fashion brands are constantly innovating to meet the needs of Indian consumers. This is resulting in more textile waste. Bhavya Goenka, who founded the venture, said that upcycling textile waste is a response to fast fashion’s wastefulness. Iro IroTextile waste can be upcycled to create textile products that don’t produce any more waste. “The fashion industry presents a linear business model of manufacture-use-dispose; therefore, it is an obvious contributor to environmental distress. Goenka said that there is a huge untapped potential. Iro Iro works with other businesses to create textiles for fashion and interiors using a circular production process that promotes the repair, regeneration, and reuse of product or material. She said that she has recycled more than 10,000 kg of textile waste to date.

According to the The, traditional Indian clothing like sarees still accounted for 70% of domestic women’s apparel sales in 2017. Mckinsey report. Even if India is more inclined to western wear, it is still expected traditional wear will account 65% of the apparel industry by 2023, according to the report . “Traditional wear, such as sarees and kurtas, have a cultural value and will never go obsolete. Nitya stated that there is always a way to make Indo-western outfits out of sarees.

Interest in secondhand and renting clothing is on the rise. The resale market could be larger than fast fashion in ten years, according the the 2019 McKinsey Report.

Rawat stated that sustainability is not only a matter for manufacturers. It also requires customers to be aware of their choices. “The idea behind a closed looped system aims to achieve sustainability through resource efficiency, renewable energy, and raw materials. These are only incremental steps in positive direction.

IndiaSpendZara and H&M were contacted by us to discuss their efforts to be sustainable. H&M has more than 50 retail storesZara has now over 22 storesIndia. Once we get a response, we will update the story.

We are open to receiving feedback. Please write to respond@indiaspend.org. We reserve the rights to correct grammar and language in responses.

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