Fashion and apparel manufacturing is becoming more sustainable as companies strive to make their clothing more eco-friendly. The sustainability movement has reached new heights for a variety of reasons including political mood, demographic swings and media attention. As a result, consumers have been demanding more ethically sourced apparel and brands are trying to innovate to clean up and shorten their supply chain.
An early mover is Levi Strauss and Co., who is funding a $350,000 commitment to the LS&Co Collaboratory, an annual fellowship program. It's mission is to promote innovative entrepreneurs who develop less water-intensive fabric washes and more natural indigo dyeing processes.
The Collaboratory is only one of many recent movements for more sustainable clothing, according to Environmental Leader. With participants including Nike and H&M, the Circular Fibres Initiative aims to reduce waste and pollution by reusing materials in new product.
There is also Cotton 2040, which is developing methods of growing more sustainable cotton. To grow enough cotton for one t-shirt or one pair of jeans, roughly 2,245 gallons of water is required. Pesticides and fertilizer have their own impacts to the environment and that's without considering the treatment of the material to get the right wash texture and color.
Although the apparel industry is moving in the right direction, progress is slow in the eyes of many. But progress is slow. Sustainable cotton in all types only makes up about 16 percent of total cotton production. By 2020, sustainable cotton is predicted to make up 35 percent of total cotton production.
Backed by celebrity collaborations, there is an emerging trend to create new fabrics out of waste, disposable plastic bottles, and alternative crops. This all of the above approach will be the quickest path for the apparel industry to improve a resource-intense supply chain.
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