Sustainable Sewing: The Fashion Industry

A fashion model photogrpahed against a backdrop of piles of rubbish

Hopefully by now everyone knows what a big source of pollution the fashion industry is as a whole. It produces up to 10% of the world’s carbon emissions - that’s more than all international flights plus maritime shipping combined. It is also the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply and it is simultaneously responsible for 20% of all industrial water pollution. It is further estimated that 35% of all the microplastics in the ocean come from the laundering of synthetic textiles. Adding insult to injury, every year, 85% of all these textiles, having already caused so much harm, end up in landfill.

All this is before we even get to the awful labour conditions and ridiculously low wages that many of the 60 million people worldwide who produce our garments endure.


The Good News

Every time you sew something yourself, you can disrupt this nasty equation:

  • Labour conditions: You’ll know who is making your clothes, and it isn’t people suffering in a sweatshop somewhere.
  • Waste: Instead of being made to follow the whims and wastefulness of ever-changing fashion in the shops, you are able to focus on refining your own personal style, sewing shapes that fit your body and that you feel comfortable in, and choosing patterns and colours that suit you and express what you want to express. Plus the added investment of your precious time, money and energy will hopefully mean you’ll treasure your makes instead of getting rid of them after a season or two. And you can reduce waste even more by getting creative with your fabric scraps and learning the art of mending.
  • Pollution: You’re able to reduce your environmental impact even more by the fabric choices you make, more of which in the next installment.


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