Saving Our Planet One Garment At A Time


The World Environment Day was celebrated on 5th June. In this Journal entry we write about making the little changes we can for the betterment of our planet, which is something close to home for us at Kantala. It is something that you too can take part in with very little effort - albeit with a little sacrifice of somethings that you may take for granted.

The fashion industry is the World’s second largest polluter. “Fast fashion” latched on to the fashion hungry price conscious consumer, with brands such as Zara exploiting the supply chain all the way to the cotton farmer to create cheap clothes which last a short period of time thereby enticing consumers to buy more. As Kate Fletcher put it “fast fashion isn't really about speed, but greed: selling more, making more money”.

Fast fashion is making clothes cheaper but with shorter lifecycles.

Fast fashion made clothes so cheap consumers no longer associate a value with their purchase. Today, consumers can buy more for less and therefore, associate no pain in throwing away their clothes after a short period of use. In the United States nearly 30kg of garments are thrown away per year per person and in the UK it is expected that 680 million pieces of garment will be discarded this year alone. Consumers who buy the latest trend on the cheap and dispose garments after less than 5 times of use are contributing to the growing amounts of pollution.

Landfill with disposed garments.

A high demand for new garments in turn means higher demand for materials. Cotton and polyester accounted for over 80% of global fibre production in 2013. Cotton consumes 24% of all insecticides and 11% of all pesticides globally, making it the World’s single largest chemical consuming crop. To produce one kilogram of cotton - which his roughly equivalent to a t-shirt and pair of jeans, 20 thousand litres of water is required. Synthetic materials such as polyester fibre consumes about 70 million barrels of oil annually and takes over 200 years to decompose.

 

As consumers we need to rethink and change our buying behaviour. We need to consider buying clothes which we value and will be used longer. The more we try to keep up with changing fashion trends the more we contribute to the damage done to our environment.

Organic cotton does not use chemicals and while more expensive than industrial cotton, you are guaranteed that your garment didn’t leave a stain on the environment. However, organic cotton will consume as much water owing to the very nature of the plant. Over the next 10 years water consumption is expected to grow by 40% while the global population is expected to grow only by 10%. This means two-thirds of the world population will live in water-stressed regions.

A far more credible alternative is switching from cotton or polyester based clothes to linen based clothes. Linen reduces our impact on the environment and the frequency we need to buy clothes. Made from flax fibres, which include hemp and jute, linen is durable and lasts longer than cotton. It consumes far less energy and natural resources compared to cotton while pesticides and other chemicals are not required. As a natural fibre it decomposes leaving no trace.

That’s why at Kantala we love the hana plant. The fibre we extract from the hana plant is a flax fibre which means the hana mats will last longer and come with next to no impact on the environment. As a naturally regenerating plant it is also a sustainable source of material when harvested with care.

Hemp cultivation does not require chemicals and yields as much as 8 tons of dry fibre per acre.

Hana leaves yield fibre which are categorised as flax fibre.

The “slow fashion” movement is at the forefront of countering the ugly beast of “fast fashion”. The slow fashion movement promotes garments made from ethical and sustainable sources of material. The movement prioritises value over cost. Unlike the world of fast fashion, we believe in making fashion items which last longer, which are good for people and good for the planet. However, that means no cutting corners leading to higher prices compared to fast fashion garments. But, you will find an emotional connection with your slow fashion product which makes you value it more and use more than the cheap fast fashion garments.

Mainstream brands such as Patagonia are encouraging consumers to buy less.

That means in the long run you will use it for longer, spend less and leave a smaller pollution footprint on our environment. So in commemoration of World Environment Day let us take it upon ourselves to make the little changes in our lifestyles to help the environment heal and protect planet Earth for the future.

 

Note:

Facts and assertions made in this article have been sourced from mainstream media such as the BBC, Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Guardian and global organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature. Kantala has not verified the accuracy of the information taken from these sources.

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