Greta Thunberg calls for climate change action – how will fashion respond?

In a world where many leaders are failing to act against – or sometimes even acknowledge – climate change, we’ve been presented with an unlikely hero in the form of 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.

Just days after millions of angry Gen Z activists took to the streets around the world, Greta’s impassioned speech at the United Nations Climate Action Summit urged the world’s politicians to make new commitments to address global warming before it’s too late.

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words,” insisted the youngster, speaking with more conviction than leaders more than twice her age.

While some of us on the team here at Fashionizer don’t belong to Gen Z or even the millennial generation – we can remember the 80s! - it doesn’t dampen our commitment to understanding that we’re all responsible for being a part of the change.

It’s important to grasp that the journey to becoming sustainable is far more nuanced than current conversation makes clear. It’s not as black and white as suggested, but instead various shades of grey (or green!).

Sustainability cycle

The push to becoming greener is the important first step, but the ability to respond to this shift is the bigger challenge. Recycled polyester (PET) is the perfect example of how this if proving a challenge, it requires 33-53% less energy to produce than conventional polyester and, as it’s manufactured from recycled plastic bottles. Theoretically it saves non-biodegradable plastic from going directly into landfills. It is estimated that PET yarn emits 54.6% less CO2e than conventional polyester. However, like many of the moving parts that make up our textile industry, PET’s role in keeping plastic bottles out of landfill isn’t quite as straightforward as it first seems. Post-consumer PET (the ‘greenest’ option) requires used bottles, which has driven up demand for them. So much so, that in some areas, demand is outstripping supply and some PET manufacturers have had to resort to purchasing new plastic bottles directly from bottle-producing companies to then make a polyester textile fibre that can be called ‘recycled’.

Thankfully as the awareness, development and knowledge of sustainability processes increase, improvements to collecting plastic waste – such as the Ocean Cleanup project in the Pacific and the development of Seaqual fabric, the awareness of textile audit trails and certifications will become more prominent.

As Greta so defiantly states, a seismic shift is needed, and it’s going to be a long journey! We understand that every step in our supply chain is a steppingstone towards a more sustainable future, and with lead times for new developments taking months and years, it makes our industry’s road to being sustainable less of a sprint and more of a marathon.

It’s a daunting task, but as we started our sustainability journey some years ago, we’re already on our way and committed to continuing our training for this green marathon. The team at Fashionizer Spa, who are made up of all generations,  are excited to be part of the sustainable fashion movement.

To showcase our unrivalled passion for sustainability we have created a new section on our website, and over the coming weeks we will be exploring the topic in a series of short videos. We’ll be discussing the issues around sustainability in textiles, using our expertise to shine a light on topical issues, and sharing how we hope to entice our clients around the world to become part of the movement.

At Fashionizer Spa, our mission statement is to become as sustainable as possible by 2020, and we want our ethos to be reflected in every aspect of our business in a bid to cement our position as a market leader in sustainable uniform fashion.

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