Land

Apparel supply chains are directly linked to soil degradation and habitat loss.

Soil is our most fundamental and basic resource. It underpins food security and environmental quality, essential to all living beings. The importance of soil to human wellbeing is often not realized until the production of food drops or is jeopardized when the soil is severely eroded or degraded, to the level that it loses its inherent resilience. Soil and land degradation today adversely affect more than 3 billion people.

The fashion industry’s impact

The fashion industry causes soil degradation and habitat loss through its unsustainable practices. For example through monocrop farming where a single crop is grown year after year on the same land, such as for cotton cultivation. Or through monocultures where for example only one animal species is bred, such as wool production, which leads to deforestation, desertification and biodiversity loss.

What we need to do

A revolutionary systemic shift is needed, where the pressure on land is decreased. We need to turn linear approaches to production, design, use and disposal of materials into circular models and regenerative practices that restores nature.

Regenerative agricultural methods mean farming with the environment, not against it, by restoring and enhancing the entire ecosystem of the farm. A new textiles economy would apply these methods to the production of cotton and other renewable materials used in textiles production. Regenerative agriculture improves soil health, which, in turn, may increase crop yields as they get more resilient.

Textile utilization have to be optimized including a longer lifespan and increased usage through better design and more reuse options, as well as improved recycling when materials reach their end-of-life. A holistic circular approach to production and consumption would also mean more materials in the loop, decreasing the need for virgin resources.

Global commons

Biodiversity

Cotton accounts for 2.4% of global cropland, but stands for 22.5% of the insecticide use.

Climate

The textile industry accounts for up to 10% of global carbon emissions.

Ocean

35% of all microplastics in the ocean comes from the laundering of synthetic textiles.

Water

Apparel production is the second-largest user of the world’s freshwater supply.