If the words “Pinatex” and “Orange Fiber” remind you of cocktails or fruit salads, you may want to reconsider.
Pinatex is a company that produces alternative textiles to substitute leather using pineapple leaves. Orange fiber similarly substitutes silk from orange peels, and BLOOM foam turns algae into foam for shoe soles. The companies are partnering with H&M to provide clothing made of waste-and the clothes are made to last. This last bit may actually involve dangerous chemical processing, but that is at least a step towards sustainability in an industry that is both environmentally and socially harmful.
The environmental and social consequences of fast fashion are tremendous. One cotton shirt requires 2700 litres of water for its production- enough water for a person to drink for 2.5 years. Textile dyeing often includes hazardous chemicals and is the second largest polluter of clean water globally. Polyester is one of the most widely used material for textiles, and when it is used is sheds microfibers that bioaccumulate through the trophic chain, ending up in our plates. The production of a pair of jeans emits an amount of greenhouse gases equivalent to those emitted by driving a car for 80 miles. And according to a 2018 report of the US Department of Labor, fashion industry exploits forced and child labor in Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Vietnam and other countries.
The intense consumerism surrounding the fashion industry leads to massive waste of natural resources. According to the Ellen Mc Arthur Foundation, the average consumer bought in 2014 60% more clothes than in 2000, and kept them only for half as long. Fashion items are bought and used for a couple of times, and as a result, one garbage truck of clothes is burned or sent to landfills every second. And the trends are increasing.
Solutions? First and foremost, less consumerism: buy less new clothes, keep them for longer. Recycling is another step-H&M, for example, aside from its new line of clothes-made-of-waste, has a successful garment collection scheme, repurposing their consumers’ unwanted clothing. Other brands, meanwhile, are using recycled materials to create clothing. Outdoor clothing brand Patagonia has made polyester fleece out of recycled plastic bottles. And, another rising trend, is leasing. According to a survey conducted by Westfield Shopping Centre in London, clothing rental would become a key future trend with a predicted market value of £923m in the UK.