Textile Industry: Towards Responsible Consumption

Textile Industry: Towards Responsible Consumption

Towards responsible consumption in textile and fashion industry. Buying responsibly seems to be a growing concern in the fashion industry. This trend is fueled by a growing awareness of the environmental and social issues surrounding the production and consumption of clothing.

The textile industry: an emerging awareness

However, despite these positive developments, it is crucial to recognise that fast fashion and the recent ultra-fast fashion remain firmly entrenched on a global scale, with serious human and environmental consequences. A quantity of CO2 emissions comparable to that of the aviation sector, 150 billion garments produced in 2020 (do the math on the number of units per inhabitant…), astronomical quantities of textile waste, disastrous human working conditions, fast fashion brands’ profit margins disproportionate to workers’ wages,…

These facts highlight the urgent need to rethink our consumption habits and promote more sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion and home textiles industry. And do you know what? Consumers have power!

Responsible purchasing offers a tangible opportunity to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. By focusing on ethical and sustainable choice, consumers can support responsible production practices and encourage innovation in the textile industry.

Buying “responsibly”: what does it mean? What can you do?

In our view, buying responsibly means asking whether a purchase is an ethical and/or sustainable choice for stakeholders. To help you answer this question, you need to be informed. In the world of textiles, as you know, there are numerous certifications that shed light on the criteria met by a brand (or a targeted product). Obtaining a label is not everything, and certainly not enough! It still has to be relevant to the criteria you are looking for. For example, one label may certify that it protects the health of users only, another that it protects the environment, and still others that are more comprehensive, incorporating more criteria. Take cotton, for example, where the most comprehensive certification is GOTS: it certifies that the brand respects sustainable, environmental, ethical and human health commitments. Want to find out more? Read our blog post on the subject.
Another way of finding out more is to subscribe to the newsletters of organisations such as Fairtrade and Fashion Revolution.

Buying responsibly can also start by buying better. How can we do this? By choosing products that last and by favouring quality over quantity. Choosing natural materials can guarantee the quality of your products, but you also need to be sure that they will last. Natural materials are synonymous with eco-responsible materials only if they are organically grown or very environmentally friendly. To find out more, read our blog post. Materials recycled from market waste to make new products are also an environmentally-friendly solution that promotes the circular economy.

And while it’s true that buying top-quality linens or clothing is more expensive up front, you need to take a long-term view: they generally last longer and retain their shape and colour better. As a result, you’ll find yourself buying less frequently. Each sheet will have cost less per good night’s sleep, and each item of clothing will have cost less per day of use.
Promoting second-hand clothing whenever possible (although this sector also has its excesses) is also a way of buying better, as is turning to brands with strong, honest commitments by consulting their websites, their certifications and their commitments, and by daring to question them about anything that isn’t clear!

Buying better also means buying less (or not at all)! We need to ask ourselves whether a purchase meets a real need. In Europe, only 30% of the clothes in our wardrobes are actually worn, highlighting the problem of over-consumption. It might be a good idea for everyone to find out whether they fall within this average. The same applies to household linen: how many tablecloths or towels do you have? Do you really need to renew your bed linen? If so, make sure you choose natural qualities that last (and if they’re sustainable and ethical, that’s even better for your health and your conscience, but also for the environment, for the farmers, their communities and the production workers). Choose timeless colours that you’ll never tire of. Do you really need a limited edition ephemeral colour that Facebook or Instagram shows you every day and that you’ll soon tire of?

Fast food inspired fast fashion, which in turn inspired fast living, fast travelling, etc.

Consumers have power, but so do brands – even more so!

While more and more consumers are moving towards responsible consumption, a growing number of brands are also developing along these lines. These are brands that offer timeless, high-quality products that last over time, at fair prices all year round and for everyone, and that are in line with their values. When they introduce new products into their range, they take the time to think them through: tests, analyses of past sales, timelessness, etc. Unlike “flash” or “limited edition” collections, which create a “buzz” and an unthinking desire among consumers to rush into a purchase that could be impulsive and unnecessary.

Brands also have the power to choose sustainable production methods, thereby limiting their impact on the environment. At Kalani, we have developed a tool to find out how much energy, water, CO2 emissions and chemical pesticides are saved by buying from our e-shop rather than from a brand using conventional cotton. To find out more, follow this link.
Similarly, a brand must be respectful and ethical towards all the people who work to supply its raw materials, produce and sell its products. Here are a few examples of responsible actions a brand can take: buying local and/or Fairtrade raw materials; paying a fair price to the farmers and people who are at the beginning of the chain and suffer most of the time from the prices imposed by the international stock exchanges; respecting its Duty of Ethical Vigilance by tracing its supply chain, visiting factories, auditing or requesting social audits of factories, and collaborating with its suppliers in a relationship of partnership.

We are all actors of change

By adopting a conscious approach to consumption, individuals and companies can become agents of change, helping to shape a more responsible and equitable textile industry for all. But that’s not enough. These two pillars also need the third pillar to force change: Governments. To protect our planet and humanity, we need to discuss, vote on and regulate stricter, fairer, more logical rules. Fortunately, above and beyond certain more realistic countries, Europe has voted for the Green Deal in 2019. It went unnoticed with Covid and the war in Ukraine, but the tsunami of legislations is coming and it will change the face of the textile world in the coming years. If you’ve made it to the end of this article, then you’re as ready as we are to be part of this wonderful adventure!

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