Wed. Mar 29th, 2023

The human soul connects with Mother Earth, in nearly all respect and seems to resonate with the message it renders.

If she will be sick, the human world will also feel the pain and conversely, if Mankind is separated, lost and sick, the planet will suffer.

Therefore, in order to heal and restore the Earth, it’s the humankind we need to mend first.

And humanity has been awake from its slumber, for the last few decades. It has been making several attempts to deliver changes at all levels: develop but while giving due respect to Nature, integrate sustainability to almost every arena of work.

If the world does not act now, the next 10 years will see diverse parts of our world become inhospitable for humans, in addition to other species because of unpredictable weather, increased frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, glacial bursts, cyclones, forest fires, heatwaves etc.

Every consecutive year surpasses the other in increasing heat and 2020 witnessed average global temperatures rise of 1.2°C in compassion to the preindustrial conditions.

This is threatening as the world leaders aim to limit this to 1.5 degrees C by the end of this century.

But we continue to emit and record a 0.2°C rise per decade, which will yield a 3-5 degree C rise by the end of this century, failing our targets and negating our efforts.

And consequently, be it retail, finance, technology, healthcare, education or fashion, all are beginning to taste the flavour.

Because climate change, has undoubtedly, given birth to a new class of “conscious consumers” as they witness more and more perils encircling nature, their own surroundings and ultimately their own life cycles.

They get conscious of the waste made in denial and the ways to deal with it. The measures may include reducing waste and even encouraging the sources of these waste to curb it.

A few surveys have suggested that even a staggering 50 per cent of consumers are even willing to pay more for a sustainable way of packaging and transport.

All the major apparel companies in Sweden have aligned their business models, production processes and store concepts towards improved sustainability and better adaptability for changed climate.

What are we paying for the clothes in our closet?

Well, calculating the cost of an article or an accessory is easy until we incorporate the damages it causes to the environment, preferably its production process.

As per the estimates from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a pair of jeans consumes approximately 3,781 liters of water, from the fabric production to its delivery in the store.

This makes up to 33.4 kilograms of carbon equivalent, for a single pair.

In total, the fashion industry takes up 93 billion cubic meters of water annually which can quench the thirst for lives and livelihoods of five million people.

Also, 20 % of the global wastewater generation can be attributed to fabric dyeing and processing.

And even though it contributes to 10 % of annual global carbon emissions which is more than the emissions made by international flights and shipping combined, the industry remained enveloped from such questioning for decades.

And what disappoints, even more, is the fact that only a bare 1 % of used clothing is recycled into new forms, injecting a loss of $ 500 billion and a need for the virgin fabric to yield another 99 per cent of new clothing.

While this helps to control wastage and discharge of microplastics into the environment, it helps in limiting the additional emissions to be made.

As per a recent study, recycled polyester is known to produce 79 per cent lesser carbon emissions than the virgin polyester used to make these new articles.

Keeping these in mind, the industry will have to cut its emissions down to less than 1.1 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent, by 2030 if the goals under 2015’s COP21 and The Paris Agreement have to be materialized.

Why does the fashion industry need remodelling?

Being the third biggest sector by operation, after Automobiles and technology, its cumulative value stands at 2.4 billion globally, engaging and generating income for 75 million people directly (considering the entire value chain).

Therefore, UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion and the World Bank’s Connect4Climate program have been formed to bring in greater sustainability measures.

Technology and research have been working hard to make it easier for the industry to be more sustainable.

For example, sports’ shoes and outfits are being sourced from the plastics dumped into the ocean, fish skins and other organic dyes have replaced hazardous chemicals, even fruit skins can be used to create furs etc.

From fuel to Fabric: A change that drives the fashion world

A renowned fashion brand Zara has launched a limited series of splendid black dresses but what makes these special is that they are made partly by carbon emissions collected from Steel mills.

This makeover of the fabric allows utilizing some of the black emissions, released inadvertently by several industrial processes.

We have found a new pathway to recycle carbon emissions to make fabric,” explains the CEO of LanzaTech (the pioneer in this regard).

“The collaboration with Zara marks the first-time clothes produced from captured carbon have been made available for sale”.

This is done by producing ethanol (Lanzanol) from carbon emissions, collected from industry, households etc., through fermentation, just the way yeast converts sugar into alcohol.

The resulting ethanol is then further converted into low carbon monoethylene glycol (MEG), only to make fibres creating polyester yarn in the final run.

“We have to learn to use carbon that’s not buried in the ground. Let’s bend the curve and see emissions drop 5%-8% every year, whether with our technology or anyone else’s.”

“If we’re going to use carbon, let’s use what’s above the ground.”

Nevertheless, it is to note that even this technology does not produce textiles made from 100 percent of captured carbon.

The project’s first commercially available gas fermentation plant has yielded over 20 million gallons of ethanol, which is equivalent to storing nearly 120,000 metric tons of CO2 away from the atmosphere.

Not only the fashion or apparel industry has found the use of this technology lately.

In India, carbon emissions have been converted into lipids and Omega-3–rich fatty acids, important nutritional food components or the conversion of industrial waste into aviation fuel or the jet fuel to be used by Virgin Airways.

By Alaina Ali Beg

I am a lover of all arts and therefore can dream myself in all places where the World takes me. I am an avid animal lover and firmly believes that Nature is the true sorcerer.

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