The Growing Interest in Sustainable Apparel Development

I have written previously that the retail market has lagged behind in the demand for green products (i.e. those sustainably made, sourced, and delivered), but that once we come out of the recession hangover we’re in, the market will grow. See “Improving Eco-Design in Retail with PLM”.

Recent signs point to the fact that maybe the time has come for demand of sustainably made products to rise; in particular, there’s a great article recently published by Apparel Magazine on the growing market for “green” in apparel. “Sustainable Apparel is the only option, Say Textile Industry Leaders”. Very interesting in that these leaders, according to the article,recognize they need to take a holistic approach to this, taking into consideration not just sourcing organically grown cotton, but also challenges like water scarcity:

  • Twenty percent of industrial fresh water pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing

  • One trillion kilowatt hours are used every year by the global textile industry which results in 10 percent of total global carbon impact

  • Textile waste occupies nearly 5 percent of all landfill space

  • It takes 700 gallons of fresh water to make one cotton T-shirt and in 2009, three trillion gallons of fresh water were used to produce 60 billion kilos of fabric

  • The average U.S. resident throws away 68 pounds of clothing every year.

Pretty compelling facts.  Many retailers already adopt sustainable measures – look at Patagonia, which has sourced organic cotton for the past decade, and has apparel and footwear in-store recycling programs in place. In due time, I think, the apparel and retail industry will collectively recognize that sustainable product development is not only good for the environment, it’s also good business.

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