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Nearly everyone is aware of the impact of climate change on the earth. However, only a few people worry about biodiversity, an event having an equally strong impact on society. It is estimated that one million species are at the risk of extinction, and we can expect the number to keep increasing. The impact of fashion on biodiversity has often been ignored. Thankfully, more people are beginning to wake up to its devastating effects.
WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY?
In broad terms, it is defined as the variety of all life forms on Earth. The importance of biodiversity cannot be understated. Human beings rely on it for food and energy. We also rely on biodiversity for fresh water and keep the air quality top-notch.
HOW HAS THE APPAREL INDUSTRY CONTRIBUTED TO BIODIVERSITY LOSS?
The apparel industry has contributed its quota to losing the earth's biodiversity. The supply chains of apparel directly link to the conversion of ecosystems, waterway pollution, and soil degradation.
Even though the apparel industry supply chain has heavily impacted biodiversity, the industry has started waking up to its responsibilities. If forests are protected, it can help reduce greenhouse emissions. However, if we see global temperatures rising, we could risk the extinction of many species.
Because biodiversity is vast, it can affect a myriad of things. Biodiversity can affect soil, oceans, freshwater, and more. Shoe companies such as Girotti have instead developed an on-demand approach to reduce biodiversity. Girotti uses an on-demand system that allows climate change and biodiversity-conscious customers to design and build their shoes using a 3D configurator. They can order the products online after manufacturing.
The positive effects of on-demand manufacturing put choice directly in the hands of the customers. It also allows customers to make sure that they patronize brands proactive about climate change and biodiversity. Below are the fashion industry's most significant contributions to biodiversity loss:
Wood-based natural fibers
Wood-based natural fibers are created from cellulose which is a derivative of wood. It is estimated that more than a hundred and fifty million cellulose is derived from wood. While it is true that a large majority of cellulose comes from sustainable trees, about thirty percent comes from trees and forests that are endangered.
Many chemicals used in plantation forests during pulp processing also play a big part in polluting the soil and water. This drives the loss of habitat and the endangerment of many species.
Dyeing Of Textile And Treatment
It is approximated that about 25% of industrial water pollution comes from Dyeing. The process of dyeing and treatment overexploits the earth's freshwater resources. It also contaminates waterways through the runoff of chemicals.
There are about 1900 chemicals that are used for the processing of clothes. However, out of 1900, the European Union classifies 165 of them as hazards to the environment and earth.
It is estimated that an average of 700,000 fibers are released in a regular laundry load. Also, about half a million tons of microfibers find their way to the ocean and end up there. 35% of primary microplastics found in the sea originate when synthetic textiles are washed.
The apparel industry has also been very lax with how they downcycle waste. Only about 12% of these wastes are broken down into component materials. Even more alarming is that less than one percent is close-loop recycled. Furthermore, 73% of this textile waste is burnt up. Some of them end up in landfills. This causes the release of pollutants into the surroundings and can lead to habitat loss. Thirty to three hundred species per hectare can be lost during the development of one landfill.
You can't talk about non-synthetic fibers without mentioning cotton. This is because they are the most used non-synthetic fibers globally. The farming of cotton is insecticide and pesticide intensive. Even though cotton grows on just 2.4% of the world's cropland, it still accounts for 22.5% of global insecticide use. Even worse, cotton is notorious for its water intensiveness. Estimates suggest that about 2,700 liters of water are needed to make one T-shirt.
HOW CAN APPAREL INDUSTRIES INTERVENE?
Now that we have shown you the problem, it is vital that we also proffer solutions. Apparel Industries will have to make compromises to reduce the impact of fashion on biodiversity. Here are some steps that should be taken:
Increase the output of innovative materials and processes
Do more to improve the sustainability of cotton and synthetics
Think of investing in textile innovation
Be more aggressive in the stance against waterway pollution
Educate and empower consumers
Employ an on-demand approach
Ensure that there is zero waste during production
POSITIVE EFFECTS OF ON-DEMAND MANUFACTURING
Small businesses are the most advantaged when it comes to On-demand manufacturing. This is because it allows them to have low minimum order requirements. Inventory management becomes easier for a small business with low order minimum requirements. Shoe manufacturing companies like Girotti use on-demand manufacturing to ensure that they produce only what they are sure to sell. Below are some of the advantages of on-demand manufacturing.
1. Zero Markdowns
At the end of a season, a retailer will usually check the stock they have left. They check the stock according to color, size, or style. This process is called markdowns. All the products classified as markdowns are usually no longer applicable for the next season. However, when you use on-demand manufacturing, the risk of markdowns is eliminated with on-demand manufacturing only what the customer orders is sold.
2. Zero Waste
When you manufacture only what your customer orders, you remove the need to discount inventory. This way, you eliminate any leftover material. When you stock a lot of inventory, some won't get sold because not all of them are "crowd-pleasers." However, with on-demand manufacturing, you get to manufacture only what you know people want.
It is terrible to think our actions push the earth's natural ecosystem to collapse gradually. Many people do not put a lot of thought into what was lost to make just one pair of T-shirts. While we cannot stop the extinction of species all at once, the fashion industry has to wake up more to its responsibilities. The impact of fashion on biodiversity will get only larger unless something is done fast.
At Girotti, we are actively fighting biodiversity by selling our shoes using on-demand manufacturing. Our customers can buy products online. We allow our customers to customize and order their own shoes using our platform.