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Ethics in the news: Fashion and environmental impact

Being one of the main pollutants globally, fashion designers are seeking to reduce the environmental impact of their industry.
People fighting against the rights of sheep

Environmentalists have long noted that the fashion industry is among the top polluting industries in the world.

Designers seeking to reduce fashion’s environmental impact

Both natural resources and synthetic polluters are required for a number of steps in the fashion production chain. Fiber crops such as cotton and linen require soil, water, and fertilizers that produce hazardous water runoff. Synthetic fibers such as polyester are comprised of petroleum products. Fuels are needed to transport fibers, dry goods, garment components, and ultimately apparel fashions themselves to point-of-purchase locations.

Additionally, textile dyeing and finishing use chemicals that not only yield the fabrics desired by designers and consumers but also cause pollution due to the waste treatment processes required to effectively administer most dyes and finishes used in the global marketplace. Design and production processes have numerous negative impacts on our environment, but unfortunately, the impact of fashion does not end there. Most fashion garments are discarded in landfills long before their useful life has expired.

The Sustain Your Style is dedicated to sharing information about fashion and sustainability. The goal of Sustain Your Style is to identify “humane and sustainable alternative (fashion) options without compromising on our look.”
The authors of Sustain Your Style note that today’s average consumer owns more clothing than people did generations ago, and the relative price of fashion items has dropped over time, increasing our pace of consumption. This greater access to clothing has supported over-production in the global fashion industry, contributing to harmful environmental outcomes.
According to Anika Kozlowski for The Conversation, “The Canadian fashion industry finds itself at a decisive point. The lack of previous support for fashion designers has created an opportunity for Canada to take on a leadership role in the global fight for a sustainable fashion future.” Canada has been recognized by Sustain Your Style as among the small number of countries that enforce stricter environmental regulations for factories compared to most other countries.
The Expo for design, innovation, and technology (Edit), held in Canada and sponsored by the united nations development Program (undP) and the government of Ontario, is a biennial festival that brings together designers and technology experts who share ideas about solving global issues and identifying ways to achieve sustainable development goals.
The Canadian fashion industry has emerged as a leader in sustainable design, with the non-profit organization Fashion takes action (Fta) hosting a sustainable design competition in 2017 as part of the EDIT Festival.
The Peggy Sue Collection, designed by Peggy Sue Deaven-Smiltnieks, won first place for its fashion collection made with “hyper-traceable fibers, artisanal production, and zero-waste design” (Shantz, 2017). The winning collection was constructed with “local wool and alpaca fibers, organic color-grown cotton and innovative upcycled denim.”

Resources used for this news article

  1. Kozlowski, A. (July 3, 2017). Available: Fashion designers respond to environmental crises..
  2. Shantz, K. (October 4, 2017). Available: Peggy Sue Collection wins Canada’s Sustainable Fashion Award..

It is wonderful to take note that designers are aiming to be ethical, sustainable, and humane in their design and manufacturing process, actively exploring sustainable alternatives.

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Manufacture and Design Ethics in the Fashion Industry

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