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Cleaning up couture : Là Fuori’s take on the changing world of fashion

Our clothing is an expression of individuality. We use it to make ourselves unique as well as provide comfort and protection. But the environmental cost of our clothes is adding up.

Today you made a decision that could change the face of the planet. You decided what to wear.When was the last time you looked in your wardrobe and couldn’t find anything suitable?
We need a fashion industry based on three principles: clean, fair and good.”

Biocouture, or fashion made from more environmentally sustainable materials, is increasingly big business. Using waste from wood, fruit and other natural materials to create textiles. Alternative ways of dyeing their fabrics or searching for materials that biodegrade more easily once thrown away.

The industry’s environmental footprint is immense. It extends beyond the use of raw materials. Combined, the global apparel and footwear industries account for an estimated 8 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.
Switching to recycled polyester fabric can help to reduce the carbon emissions – recycled polyester releases half to a quarter of the emissions of virgin polyester. But it isn’t a long-term solution, as polyester takes hundreds of years to decompose and can lead to microfibres escaping into the environment. But natural materials aren’t necessarily sustainable either, if they require huge amounts of water, dye and transport. Organic cotton may be better for the farmworkers who would otherwise be exposed to enormous levels of pesticides, but the pressure on water remains.
However, a great deal of innovation is going into crafting lower-impact fabrics.

Lifecycle assessments show—taking cotton production, manufacture, transport and washing into account— it takes 3,781 liters of water to make one pair of jeans. The process equates to around 33.4 kilograms of carbon equivalent emitted, like driving 111 kilometers or watching 246 hours of TV on a big screen.
Even just washing our clothes releases plastic microfibers and other pollutants into the environment, contaminating our oceans and drinking water. Around 20 per cent of global industrial water pollution is from dyeing and textile treatment.

Yet globally, the industry wields considerable power. It is worth US$1.3 trillion, employing around 300 million people along the value chain.
But steps must be taken to involve everyone involved in the value chain to address environmental hotspots; define and take bold action on them.

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