What is Sustainable Clothing?
What is Sustainable Clothing?
The problem with the fashion industry can be summarized by the sheer amount of waste produced in the system. As an industry, it’s the 4th largest producer of waste in the world. The major processes that contribute to the problem are the production ( the fibers used), the consumption, and the disposal. The current model of the fashion industry has been coined by the term “fast fashion”. The “fast” refers to the incentive companies have to produce low-quality clothing. If the cost is cheap and the quality is low, consumers will wear out their clothes faster and will have to buy new ones more frequently. As a result, in America alone, the average person will throw out 81 pounds of clothing this year. That amounts to 26 billion pounds of textiles and clothes ending up in landfills! This staggering amount is only growing as the world catches up to America’s levels of consumption.
This might all seem a little grim, but there are plenty of companies out there working to reverse the script. The current approach to fight fast fashion comes in the form of sustainable clothing. What is sustainable clothing you ask? Sustainable clothing refers to fabrics derived from eco-friendly resources, such as sustainably grown fiber crops or recycled materials. It also refers to how these fabrics are made. Currently, only around 20% of clothing is recycled or reused, huge amounts of fashion products end up as waste in landfills or are incinerated. That leaves a lot of room for companies to be creative in how they can utilize the other 80% of clothing that is thrown away. The most common and most environmentally friendly way to buy clothes as a consumer is thrifting. This form of consumption doesn’t require making new materials and is putting existing materials to good use. Second to that is recycled clothing. In this process, recycled or reclaimed fibers are recovered from either pre or post-consumer sources. The most commonly available recycled synthetic fiber is polyester made from plastic bottles.
Ope Outdoors has chosen to source our products with recycled fibers and materials as well as high-quality pre-owned clothing. Our primary source of recycled clothing will utilize the ever-growing waste of plastic bottles. According to the EPA, plastic accounts for 12% of the total amount of waste we produce. Also, recycling plastic reduces air, water, and ground pollution. PET plastic clothing is made from recycled bottles as follows: plastic bottles are collected, compressed, baled, and shipped into processing facilities where they will be chopped into flakes, and melted into small white pellets. Then, the pellets are processed again and spun into yarn-like fiber where it can be made into clothing. The process isn’t perfect and new research into microplastics and their effects dampen the idealistic pursuit, but as of right now, it’s the most reliable technology we have. One main benefit of making clothes from recycled bottles is that it keeps the bottles and other plastics from occupying landfill space and out of our oceans. Another benefit is that it takes 30% less energy to make clothes from recycled plastics than from virgin polyesters. Each shirt you purchase is made from 8 plastic recycled water bottles. How cool is that!?