Let’s be honest, Episode 5: Clothing

Let’s be honest is a Food Circle’s project with the aim to open up the conversation about the challenges when being or becoming a member of the SC (Sustainability Club). This series will shine a light on the different approaches to make life more sustainable, as well as the step-backs and difficulties that arise. Being more kind and understanding, instead of critical, will hopefully help to encourage us to try, instead of giving up when facing a step-back or failure. This is made possible thanks to Sapient, the mother company of Food Circle, which every year offers internships to students from all around the world creating a uniquely multicultural environment.


Let’s celebrate the achievements and give room for honesty and struggles!



I realized in the last few years that increasing my positive impact on our planet and other people is way harder than one might assume. Instead of being too critical for not being good enough, I now aspire to reduce my harmful impact to the minimum. This takes many many changes and time, as well as energy and financial resources.

An aspect I try to improve in is clothing. Just the washing process is the reason for 500 000 tons of microfibers added to the ocean every year. This is the same amount as 50 billion plastic bottles tossed into the ocean (Maiti & Thomas, 2020). Other aspects like production, clothing return, and supply also cause enormous harm to our environment and human

health. Many brands try to reduce their harmful impact. Period pants, as mentioned in the last article, are not only environmentally friendly because they reduce plastic waste. They often use recycled material and follow ethical and fair guidelines in the process of production and supply. This means paying a fair wage and making sure that the working conditions are not harming people. The majority of the clothing industry’s sectors are based on the principle of cheap labor and production. Consequently, people are

harmed by working too much, too hard, too long, and by not earning a fair wage. The physical and psychological issues arising are obvious. Many clothing companies produce their clothes in countries with fewer restrictions on people’s health and the harm to natural surroundings to increase their profits. Dangering and poisonous chemicals are used. This harms not only people who inhale the chemicals but also the environment by e.g. poisoning rivers in India (Assoune, n.d.). About 80% of the workers in fashion are young women. In

addition, reports show forced and child labor (Maiti & Thomas, 2020). The fashion industry is responsible for a huge amount of greenhouse gas, drying water resources, as well as polluting rivers and streams (Maiti & Thomas, 2020). The fashion industry is estimated to cause 8-10% of the greenhouse emissions. This is more than the emissions of international flying and maritime shipping combined (Maiti & Thomas, 2020).

The majority of the issues arising are caused by fast fashion. The aim is to produce as fast as possible and as much as possible to maximize supply for the newest trends. This consequently means that design, distribution, and marketing have the goal of efficiency, quantity and rapidness. Fast fashion is characterized by rapid change, as well as cheap clothes (Maiti& Thomas, 2020). It is not only the process of production and supply

damaging our environment but also the increasing amount of online shopping

returns (Guardian, 2022). 85% of the produced clothing ends up in landfills and

dumps each year (Maiti & Thomas, 2020). When shopping for more sustainable clothing that has not caused harm to people or nature, cautiousness should be emphasized. With more and more people considering sustainability in their everyday choices, being green became a marketing strategy. It goes without question that not all care deeply about our environment and people as their priority. Greenwashing is referring to the process of selling processes and products as sustainable and ethically fair when they are not. H and M is one of the most common examples of using fossil-fueled synthetic material for their ethically conscious clothing line (Guardian, 2022). The aim of greenwashing is to stand out from the competition while increasing sales and the company’s image. TerraChoice tested more than 2000 products claiming to be sustainable and green in 2009. The study had the shocking result that 98% of the products were greenwashed (Assoune, n.d.). The answer to fast fashion might be slow fashion. Producing differently, following more eco-friendly and sustainable guidelines, as well as encouraging human welfare, are principles leading to slow fashion

(Maiti & Thomas, 2020). As already mentioned, many ways lead to improvement and change. My current ones are thrift shopping and most importantly buying long-lasting, ethically, vegan and eco-friendly clothing when new. There are applications like vinted where you can buy used clothing but still have the shipment as an environmental factor. Good on you is an application that tests for greenwashing. Brands like Saye or Got Bag not only try reducing

their negative impact but also aim to increase their positive impact. They recycle plastic bottles or old clothing to have a more positive impact. There are many possibilities to reduce your negative impact, or even increase your positive one. Become a member of the SC and share your tips with us! You can find us on pretty much every Social Media platform

and we love to learn and have conversations. After all, this is what the blog series is about: Having conversations about sustainability.

Author and Editor: Lea Annikki Kaiser

References

Assoune, A. (n.d.). 6 Fashion Brands That Are Greenwashing. Panaprium. Retrieved February 1, 2022, from https://www.panaprium.com/blogs/i/fashion-brands-greenwashing

Guardian. (2022, January 14). Dirty greenwashing: watchdog targets fashion brands over misleading claims. The Guardian. Retrieved February 1, 2022, from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/jan/14/dirty-greenwashing-watchdog-targets-fashion-brands-over-misleading-claims

Maiti, R., & Thomas, D. (2020, January 29). Fast Fashion: Its Detrimental Effect on the Environment. Earth.Org. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://earth.org/fast-fashions-detrimental-effect-on-the-environment/


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