On my recent visit to Hong Kong–a city with the highest number of luxury boutiques and brand shops I’ve ever seen–I stumbled upon a few nice surprises proving that sustainability is growing with signs of affluence. For example, several small clothing and accessory stores are now offering products made solely of recycled or eco-friendly materials with chic and innovative designs.
Eco fashion: Why should we pay attention to the source of our garments?
Recycled textiles reduce textile waste and save the Earth’s diminishing natural resources. Recycled textiles have also minimized the environmental impact from–and may save water, electricity and greenhouse gas emissions during–production. Example: a 35% recycled cotton T-Shirt blended with 65% recycled PET is estimated to save 74% water, 18% electricity and 53% greenhouse gases per garment.
Three main routes to sustainable fashion:
1. Reconstruction: A process of making new clothes from previously worn garments or pre-formed products. We consume 60 percent more clothes today than we did 10 years ago; Hong Kong alone discards 234 tons of used clothing and textiles in landfills every day.
2. Upcycling: The recycling of a material into a product of a higher quality. Between 80-90% of a product’s total life cycle impact is determined by at the initial product design. Vast amounts of wasted materials– from textile scraps to umbrellas–can get a new, better, up-cycled life.
3. Zero-waste: A pattern design technique that eliminates fabric waste at the design stage. Approximately 15 to 20 percent of textiles are wasted during the garments’ design and manufacturing stages, largely due to inconsiderate pattern making. Adopting the zero-waste sustainable design techniques is good for the environment and the bottom line.