Many would agree that the organic, Fair Trade and local food market industry is considered the norm these days. As explained in the UK Guardian last week, organic food sales are soaring in local super markets while people are opting for quality over quantity. Consequently, demand for organic produce is at its highest in the UK for the past decade. Likewise, in their latest research, the US Organic Market Analysis has seen obvious increases in organic produce each year from 2006 to present. Similarly, according to abc news, Australia’s organic industry is growing exponentially and demand is forcing farmers to make the switch to organic produce. Finally, IFOAM confirms that Europe has more than doubled organic produce consumption in the past 10 years.
It seems that consumers across the globe are more aware than ever of the benefits that organic food produce has on both our health and the environment.
So why don’t we have the same stats for the organic fashion industry?
The global fashion industry is well known for being the second largest pollutant of the planet. With this knowledge, “clothing production doubled from 2000 to 2014, and the number of garments purchased each year by the average consumer increased by 60 percent,” as quoted in McKinsey&Company’s sustainable fashion article. Evidently, the consequences of fast fashion on the planet are very much proven and accessible; hence shouldn’t people be just as aware as they are about the benefits of organic food? It seems that the fashion industry, capitalism’s biggest fan, has swindled the average consumer’s mind into thinking that fashion should be cheap and fast without thinking of the consequences.
The concern remains, how do we make organic, ethical and sustainable fashion just as popular as organic food?
Thankfully, fashion departments are jumping on board the sustainable train and opting to become more ethical. McKinsey&Company make mention of various apparel companies who are working together to make more sustainable changes:
- 22 apparel brands belong to a coalition called Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals to improve and expand the use of nontoxic, sustainable chemistry in the textile and footwear supply chain.
- The Better Cotton Initiative involves more than 50 retailers and brands and nearly 700 suppliers in setting standards for environmental, social, and economic responsibility in cotton production.
- H&M and Levi’s have each partnered with I:CO to collect clothing and footwear for reuse and recycling.
- I:CO provides collection bins, sorts the items so anything wearable can be sold, and recycles what is left.
- Patagonia not only collects used clothing in its stores and through the mail but also offers repair services so its customers can extend the lives of their garments.
- C&A, recognizing the environmental effects of cotton farming, has launched an effort to purchase only organic cotton by 2020.
Hopefully, this increase in the sustainable fashion industry influences and forces others to change. Maybe we are yet to see an increase in the popularity of sustainable fashion. Maybe the safety and preservation of our planet is yet to be realised, acknowledged and implemented to the greatest extent yet.