With each passing day, more and more people awaken to the sustainability crisis facing our world, both within the context of fashion, and the broader world of products out there. But changing the dire straits that fast fashion have created in this industry is more than just empty words and wishful thinking. Consumers are now aware, and more active than ever at facing down the issues that challenge us. They are beginning to make informed decisions, and voting with their wallet for smarter choices, and it's more than just a passing fad.
How The Fashion Industry Harms the Environment
Currently, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and double the amount of water waste. Just think about that for a moment – think about all the cars, planes, trains and container ships in the world. All the burning landfills and the heaving mines. Then just think, among all that, one in ten pollution particles, one fifth of polluted water molecules are the fault of only the fashion industry. Unlike some other product types, everyone needs clothes, so it makes sense for it to be such a ubiquitous polluter, but that universality alone doesn't mean there's nothing we can do to curb its vicious output.
The problem however, doesn't just lie in the creation of fashion items, but also in their eventual disposal. 85% of clothes thrown away by Americans are destroyed or dumped, rather than recycled or sold on the vintage market. The difficulty of recycling many types of blended fibres further complicates things, with many fabrics that are sent to recycling plants being down-cycled into torn rags, rather than into a new garment. In total, only a negligible amount of clothes find themselves meaningfully recycled into anything resembling a quality textile, which is a galling outcome for our planet.
How Consumers are Making a Difference
The modern consumer has not simply taken this lying down. Surveys and studies show that a full 49% of responders were certain that they would be willing to pay more for sustainable products. And when you consider that “Don't know” responses often take up a large chunk of any survey's replies, nearly half of those polled being sure that they would definitely do so is a big win. The buying habits of consumers year-on-year show a clear trend towards the mass adoption of sustainable purchasing, and it's only projected to increase from here.