If you had to make a list of ways that you can help the environment, what would be on it? Most people include things like reforesting, recycling, using less water and avoiding single-use plastics. One element that doesn’t usually make the list is making sustainable fashion choices. And it should. Many people don’t realize that the fashion industry causes massive pollution, and if you aren’t choosing to purchase sustainable fashion, then you are helping to create that harm. So, the elephant in the room is, how can you make sustainable fashion choices?
Purchase clothing and accessories like towels, bedding, and even home accessories made from Hemp and other organic or sustainable material. This versatile fiber is being used to create beautiful, comfortable, and long-lasting fashion, without the long list of environmental costs that many other textiles come with.
One Huge Industry
Across the globe, consumer demand fuels a fashion industry that is enormous, and continually getting larger. And even the leading companies are creating micro-trends to promote consumerism. Judging by the research of the Pulse of the Fashion Industry report, the world consumes 62 million tons of apparel every year, and that is expected to rise to 102 million tons by 2030. Besides buying a lot of new clothes, many of them just sit unworn in our closets. We found a recent article in the New Yorker that states that the average American buys more than 60 items of clothing every year, and barely wear 80 percent of these. Even worse, a lot of them go straight into the trash. For instance, the Council for Textile Recycling reports that every year, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles, much of which are made from synthetic fibers that can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. And the situation isn’t much different in Europe.
Harming the Environment
It can be a surprise for you that many of those items that are taking up space in your closet or at the landfill are the cause of some major environmental problems. The fashion industry uses large amounts of water, contributes to CO2 emissions, creates considerable amounts of waste, and uses hundreds of different chemicals that pollute the environment.
Pollution & Water Waste. Textile crops like cotton require a lot of water. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) reports that it takes a shocking 20,000 liters to produce enough cotton for just one t-shirt and a pair of jeans. If we consider also processing and dying the fabric, it consumes even more water. In addition, numerous chemicals are used in all these processes and these chemicals often end up in our water systems. A common example can be the fertilizer runoff and how it makes its way into rivers and lakes. In some countries, untreated wastewater from textile factories is actually just dumped directly into rivers.
Harmful Chemicals. The fashion and textile industry uses a appalling number of chemicals. According to a 2019 report by the European Parliament, more than 1,900 different chemicals are used to make clothing and the EU classifies 165 of these as hazardous to health or the environment. In addition to polluting the water, chemicals used in the textile industry can harm the health of farmers, textile factory workers, and others who are directly exposed to these chemicals.
Wrecking the Soil. Chemicals also do damage to the soil. Healthy soil allows us to grow future textile crops, however, even more importantly, it allows us to grow food. A lot of researchers warn that due to pollution and unsustainable farming practices, the world’s topsoil is rapidly disappearing. According to the WWF, in the last 150 years, the earth has already lost half of its topsoil. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation calculates that at the rate our topsoil is disappearing, the world only has about 60 years of harvests left.
Microfiber Pollution. The environmental negative effects of fashion don’t stop after you bring that shirt or pair of jeans home. With every wash, you might be causing even more pollution. That’s because synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon are essentially made up of plastic. When we wash these fabrics, they shed tiny, plastic microfibers. Since these fibers are generally too small to be caught by the washing machine filter, they end up getting into the wastewater system, and ultimately into rivers and oceans. According to a 2016 research study, doing an average wash load of acrylic fabrics releases more than 700,000 fibers. After they end up in rivers and nature, these fibers are consumed by the creatures that live there, ultimately becoming part of our own food supply.
A Better Alternative
There is also the possibility of creating textiles without damaging the environment in the process. One good example is our company that focuses on reviving Romanian hemp. Hemp can be used to make all kinds of fabrics and clothing—even shoes—and it can actually help, rather than harm, the environment in the process.
Saving Water. Companies that are using hemp can actually help the environment. One of the biggest impacts is the water savings. Hemp uses little to no water to grow during the farming process in comparison to conventional cotton, which is one of the thirstiest crops in the world.
Reducing Co2 Emissions. Another major benefit of hemp is that it can reduce CO2. Unlike cotton, leather, and polyester that creates a lot of CO2. Hemp absorbs CO2, which means that the clothes we produce have a negative carbon footprint.
Using fewer Chemicals. Compared to other plants, hemp is much more resistant to pests and weeds. This means that it can usually be grown with very little chemical treatment such as insecticides or herbicides.
Healing the Soil. There are plenty of studies that have shown that hemp can help improve the soil. The European Industrial Hemp Association explains how. It says, “The dense leaves rapidly form a natural soil cover material that reduces water loss and soil erosion. In addition, fallen leaves provide vital nutrition for the soil.”
Why Hemp Makes Amazing Clothes
Not only does growing hemp help the environment rather than harm it, but hemp makes amazing pieces of clothing. The hemp plant has numerous qualities that make it an excellent textile choice: it is extremely strong, hemp is thermo-regulating (which means it is cool in warm weather and warm in cool weather), it can be machine washed and dried, is easily dyed, and is resistant to mold, mildew and UV light.
Hemp fibers are also very durable. That’s one of the many reasons that made us fall in love with this material.
At De IONESCU, along with a growing number of other companies strive to push the hemp fashion industry forward, but consumers also have an important role to play. While it might seem like your choice to buy a hemp jacket is not going to have much impact on the fashion industry as a whole, you actually have a lot of power to create change. Every time you choose to spend your money on a particular piece of fashion, you are influencing what the fashion industry does, because without your money that industry cannot exist. Even just choosing a reusable hemp clothing item over a plastic one can have a major impact. The Pulse of the Fashion Industry report evaluates sustainability in the fashion industry, and it has been published yearly since 2017. In their 2019 report, the authors conclude that consumers have become more aware of making sustainable decisions in fashion, however, their decisions are still dominated by aesthetics and quality. They worry that sustainable solutions are not being implemented fast enough to counterbalance the negative social and environmental impacts that the fashion industry is having on the environment.
We know that we keep on talking about hemp, but we also like to remember what got us started on a journey and to be amazed by how amazing this plant is.
If you’re interested in some quality hemp products that also benefit from a cool discount, check out our store!