What a great day! The Planet Textiles Conference yesterday did NOT disappoint. The theme was one that we are all becoming increasingly aware of: microplastics in our waters and the abundance of chemicals in our environment caused by the textile industry. There were too many inspiring speakers and fascinating periphery topics to mention, so here are the top 7 things I learnt:
1. "Sustainability is like teenage sex. Everybody claims to be doing it, but very few actually are. And even less are doing it well." 2. We can't go on with "Business as Usual". We need to move ahead farther and faster than we ever imagined.
3. Sustainability is not a TREND, it is an essential part of our human nature and culture.
4. A synthetic sweater loses over ONE MILLION fibres in a SINGLE load of laundry!
5. Natural fibres like cotton release microfibers also, but they eventually biodegrade, whereas polyester does NOT. Ever.
6. Animals at the bottom of the food chain are eating microplastics, and most sea animals now are found with microplastics in their bodies. Yep, this means if we eat fish we are eating plastic too.
And most importantly:
7. Addressing this issue requires TEAMWORK and COLLABORATION. It requires systemic change from within the industry as well as society - from the consumer and the producer. From YOU and ME.
The fashion industry has a lot of work to do, yes. But again and again I'm reminded that this industry, like every other industry, is based on the law of supply and demand. Until we as consumers stop supporting fast fashion and start demanding transparency from brands, until retail stores stop purchasing brands that have questionable production practices, and until designers and brands start demanding better production practices in their supply chain, this industry can't possibly be cleaned up.
But I have faith in us. We are a resilient and smart species. We've made it to the moon and to Mars. We invented the deep-fried Snickers bar and bullet trains and brain surgery and sneakers with wheels on them. We CAN remedy this. It's going to take some effort and discomfort. Some re-learning of long held habits and thoughts. But WE GOT THIS.