Today, the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Every year, it alone emits 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases. This sector is also the 3rd most impacting in terms of water consumption and land use and the 5th in terms of consumption of primary raw materials. (1)
This harmful production is complemented by a drastic increase in the volume of textile waste each year. Once used, our clothes are abandoned or thrown away, without the material being reused.
This observation goes hand in hand with fast fashion. Decried, fast fashion defines the ultra-fast renewal of clothing collections by brands and a very short duration of use by consumers. Producing more and more quickly, the industries adopting this model seek to minimise production costs to the detriment of product quality, while reducing supply times in order to increase their profitability. The impact on the environment is therefore heavy: use of raw materials (natural or fossil resources), chemicals, excessive use of water, non-respect of animal welfare, soil pollution, etc.
The environmental aspect is also accompanied by a sad social record. Indeed, clothing production is made by a workforce whose rights are not always respected.The tragic event of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 reminds us of this, or more recently, the cotton used by major brands coming from the forced labour of Uighurs in China.
With awareness increasing tenfold, consumers expect more transparency from brands. More than 80% of EU citizens agree that there is not enough information available on the clothes they buy and that stricter rules are needed. (2)
Commitment to sustainable fashion
In order to contribute to a more ethical fashion industry, companies must commit to actions that promote sustainability. Many brands are already aware of the issues at stake and have taken responsible steps. In order to continue to reduce the impact of the textile sector, it is now necessary to integrate environmental protection at each step of production, to develop socially responsible channels (for example by revalorising French fibres such as hemp and linen) or to secure the channel in the face of the complexity of the supply chain.
In this sense, the European Union unveiled in March 2022 its strategy for sustainable and circular textiles so that textiles put on the market by 2030 respect certain rules: a sustainable product life cycle, production designed to respect the environment and human rights, the absence of hazardous substances and transparency of production for the consumer. Recycling is also at the heart of environmental issues and helps to save natural and fossil resources. In view of the world's growing population and the availability of our resources, it is imperative to avoid the excessive use of virgin raw materials that are not produced in an environmentally friendly way, by promoting the use of recycled materials in our textile products.
Becoming a committed brand through certification
The ethical aspect towards the consumer includes transparency on the product label.
Ecocert is at your side to meet the challenges of tomorrow's world, and supports you in promoting your good environmental and social practices. As a demanding certification body, we select from among all the existing labels those that have a positive impact on the planet and meet many eco-design challenges.
Here are some of them:
• GOTS guarantees an ecological and responsible production method by focusing on the use of organic fibres, as well as the respect and improvement of working conditions;
• The Textile Exchange labels promote the respect of animal welfare during the production chain with the use of sheep, alpaca or goat mohair wool;
• The GRS or RCS labels guarantee the use of recycled materials, while GRS adds environmental and social criteria;
• The OCS label is a verification tool for the purchase and traceability of organic textile materials, which guarantees the end consumer the organic content in the purchased product;
• ERTS is an ecological standard that integrates different types of materials such as natural fibres, fibres of natural origin or recycled fibres; ERTS level II also guarantees compliance with environmental and social criteria, so it is very useful in combination with another certification that does not have such criteria, such as RWS, RCS, OCS, etc.
• FSC is a traceability tool for forest-based textiles such as viscose, natural rubber, cork and bamboo;
• Fair for Life guarantees, among other things, fair working conditions throughout the supply chain and a fair price for the producers. GOTS, GRS, ERTS and other TExtile Exchange certifications are recognised and can simplify the verification procedures of textile production.
Thanks to our 20 years of expertise in this sector, we can assist you in implementing or enhancing sustainable practices. On the one hand upstream, thanks to our Consulting & Training offer, and on the other hand at the end, thanks to certification, as presented above with an example of labels.
In conclusion, sustainability in the textile sector needs to be invested in by brands to offer better designed clothes, which have been produced in a more natural and ecological way, respecting workers and biodiversity. But the commitment must also be on the consumer side. They will be the final decision-makers, and it is up to them to change their consumption pattern towards a more conscious approach, while enjoying their clothing longer.
(1) Source OXFAM France (2) https://www.europarl.europa.eu/