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Fashion. So Hot Right Now.
What’s the first thing you think about when it comes to fashion? What about green fashion?
Whether it’s the latest style trends or the best sustainable alternative, the fashion industry is a world of its own. But what do we really know about it?
As I tried to search the behind-the-scenes of the fashion industry, I was bombarded with information. And as I filtered through various mediums, I noticed something intriguing; a massive division of information about the industry.
On the one side, we have extremely detailed information about micro processes in the life cycle (e.g. it takes 60 liters to dye one kg of yarn), and on the other side, very general – though eye-catching – information raging across the internet.
For example, have you ever heard of this fact: The fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world?
If you’ve looked around at sustainable fashion news, chances are you’ve stumbled upon it. But when you stop to really investigate, you may notice… there’s no actual source.
It appears that the original source this fact came from was later retracted by the authors. Yet this information continues to circle around the green fashion community, shared by well-meaning but misinformed supporters of the green fashion movement.
In reality, the fashion industry releases 1,715 million tons of CO2 a year, that’s 5.4% of the 3.1 billion tons of carbon emissions worldwide. From 2015 statistics, that actually makes fashion the 8th biggest global polluter.
And this is just one of many loose-data examples.
There tends to be quite a bit of loose or exaggerated information out there floating around the green fashion world. Sometimes, a piece of information will get misinterpreted or exaggerated yet still distributed, only to be picked up by someone else to be cited and spread further. And on and on the cycle will continue.
Does it matter when the intentions are good?
Yes it does!
Because effective green marketing demands real data and accurate numbers.
Nobody likes to feel duped. Nobody likes to feel green washed. And that includes green fashion consumers.
For green fashion brands that are educating consumers and working to change how we consume fashion, getting the facts right is essential to winning the hearts and minds of consumers.
And brand trust leads to…you got it, sales.
So what’s the solution?
Like always… data!
To put an end to exaggerated info and track our positive efforts, we must first see exactly what we’re dealing with. In other words, we need to understand the problems within the fashion industry.
Surprisingly, although this industry generates over $658 billion annually, we still don’t have a full picture of all the impacts (to be fair, most garments have a highly complex life cycle).
But what we do know is that it can take up to 257 gallons of water to produce the cotton needed for a single t-shirt. Yikes.
In total the fashion industry currently uses 79 billion cubic meters of water annually —that’s enough to fill almost 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools!
…And that’s expected to rise by 50% until 2030.
We also see the same trends for emissions in the industry, as they’re expected to increase by 60% by 2030, releasing over 2.8 billion tons annually —that’s the same as 230 million cars being driven for a year (under average driving patters). Uh-oh.
But let’s put this data to work!
If you’re a green fashion brand here are 4 things you can do:
- Avoid generic claims in your marketing materials. Get real numbers.
- Share the problems. Discuss your solutions.
- Ask your suppliers for impact data. Demand numbers.
- If you’re looking for industry numbers to discuss with your community, use the data I’ve mentioned here! (yes, this is real research.)
By using real data, tracking the impacts of products and keeping a close eye on the development of alternatives, we’ll be able to turn these numbers around.