April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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3 8 P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 2 0 ENVIRONMENTAL IMPORTANCE AND ACTION So, what weight do all these buzz- words carry, and why does responsible apparel matter in the grand scheme of things? Sources bring up issues like tex- tile waste, chemical pollutants from manufacturing, and water consump- tion. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, in 2017, 11.2 million tons of textiles made it into landfills, which mostly in- cludes discarded clothing, as well as smaller sources like furniture, footwear, and sheets. Regarding such environmental concerns, Duff says this is "where possible scouring or investing in fibers that have a low impact on the environment both in their making and in their life" becomes imperative. He stresses the importance of producing and distributing quality clothing that's not for single-use. Bilyk echoes Duff 's concerns regarding landfill waste and adds that responsible ap- parel helps tackle issues like greenhouse gas emissions, water contamination, and chem- ical toxicity, as well as soil degradation, de- forestation, and excess water consumption. Through education and the implementa- tion of new manufacturing and recycling practices, responsible apparel can mitigate some of the major concerns on the minds of sources. The use of organic, recycled, and semi-synthetic fibers, regulation of factory operations, creation of better-quality items, textile recycling programs, and renewable energy sources are just a few resolutions. Newman adds that water and energy us- age is typically at the top of the list when it comes to the environmental footprint around apparel manufacturing, as well as waste in general. "Water usage starts well before the manufacturing process. For example, most of the cotton we use is grown on farms in Southeastern U.S. because it uses significantly less water than cotton grown in other parts of the world," Newman states. "It's this type of holistic approach, touching every aspect of the manufacturing process, that is required to make significant strides, and what it takes to make re- sponsible apparel." SanMar's sustainability manager Emily Gigot says it takes everything from considering the materials used to produce the product to its disposal. She argues that product developers also play a significant role in the responsible apparel equation. She encourages the industry to ask about the end use of the product, how durable it is, as well as look for ways to keep waste from the landfills when the life of the garment ends. WHY IT'S ON THE RISE The idea of a more circular design for the apparel industry isn't a new one. It's settling in, and the responsible apparel category is gaining greater awareness. Duff explains that the understanding of the production of Above left: Data shows that responsible products are not just a trend but a viable option for brands to consider. (Image courtesy SanMar) Above right: Responsible apparel not only addresses environmental impacts but social impacts as well. (Image courtesy econscious) Below: Responsible apparel companies invest in their supply chains, as well as education and advocacy. (Image courtesy AS Colour)

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