It can take more than 450 years for plastic bags, plastic water bottles and plastic straws to decompose, but that's not the only thing sitting in landfills for centuries. The fashion industry contributes to a wide range of plastic waste from packaging to hangers to all the polyester based materials we make. The problem is clear, but the solution is not. Which sustainable solutions should fashion brands prioritize when trying to reduce their impact? It ranges brand by brand, but if reducing plastic waste is one of your top priorities, here's some steps you can take to go plastic free.
1 | Source natural fabrics
If you can't afford the price of innovative sustainable materials, simply sourcing natural materials can still have a great impact. For starters, you are reducing the amount of plastic you use by taking polyester out of your collection. But, as we've learned, polyester also emits micro-plastics through the laundry process, pushing those plastic bits to the ocean. Sourcing natural materials reduces the micro-plastics pollution in your footprint. Lastly, natural materials can be shred back down to fiber and respun again making garments circular. By sourcing natural materials you can empower your customer to recycle them at the end of their life.
2 | Opt for sustainable packaging materials
With eCommerce shopping and direct to consumer brands more popular than ever, shipping has become a large part of fashion's environmental impact. To reduce this impact consider sourcing sustainable packaging materials. Here are a few key areas you should consider:
3 | Don't forget your scraps!
When you begin to understand more about sustainability you'll begin to see creative opportunities rather than limitations. There are fashion brands who leverage forgotten components like fabric scraps to achieve 100% zero-waste. Fashion brands can use their pre-consumer fabric waste to create hang tags, care bags, accessories, and even new garments.
4 | No more plastic hangers
An easy way to reduce plastic use for apparel brands is swapping for more sustainable hangers. Many suppliers ship finished garments in hangers, meanwhile many retailers do not need them. By eliminating hangers from the production process, you can immediately reduce your plastic consumption while saving yourself money in shipping by reducing your freight weight. Not to mention that metal, wood, and other more sustainable materials look much nicer for brand presentation in retail, further reducing your plastic use. You can even find paper fiberboard hangers that are bio-degradable like HANGD that can be recycled like normal cardboard but it's non-toxic and won't sit in landfills for hundreds of years.
5 | Deadstock fabrics
We talk a lot about deadstock fabrics, but that's because we love this option! It's easy for any brand to use and it can make your journey towards sustainability easier than ever. Be sure to check first with your supplier and ask what deadstock fabric they have on hand and begin the design process there. You can also look to deadstock marketplaces like THR3EFOLD's Deadstock District or Queen of Raw to source deadstock online.
Going plastic free in 2022 can seem overwhelming, but with the options out there today it's definitely possible. Researching other brands that have been able to be plastic free is a great way to get more ideas about how you can also make that same transition. If you're still looking for ethical and sustainable sourcing options, our platform is ready for you!