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The library of essays of Proakatemia

“The monster in our closet” – sustainable fashion, Patagonia

Kirjoittanut: Doneé Barendze - tiimistä SYNTRE.

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Can you name off the top of your head what brands you are currently wearing head to toe? Can you name which country they were made in? Do you know what they are made of? Perhaps you know how long the shipment process takes to transport the clothes to your doorstep? 


If you could answer all three of these, you are in the minority of the world actively understanding the fashion industry and the sustainability aspects that go hand-in-hand with it. The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change and the least transparent industry on Earth. The idea of being sustainable is to balance the three pillars of sustainability: Social (people), Environmental (planet) and Economical (profit), but currently in the fashion industry, the profit part in this equation is outweighing both the people and planet part. 


There is a huge shift in consciousness around the topic of sustainability and the fashion industry is just one part of it. People are starting to care more about what they wear, where it’s from and how it’s made. Even in today’s fashion, the majority of our garments on average consist of 50% or more of plastic in some form or another, a good example is polyester. Plastics enter our fashion industry through the bigger plastic industry, because fossil fuel industries are trying to enhance the plastic industry in order to keep drilling for gas and oil and that causes the eventual bigger ripple effect. 


Pasha Whitmire, material development lead of Patagonia argues that performance and activewear, in fact any kind of garments can be 100% made from waste. The fashion industry has implemented plastic into garments mainly because of it’s durability and long lifespan, but that exact benefit is what is causing the big issue of pollution. It is only benefiting the profit side of the sustainability equation but completely destroys the planet. The most used material in the world is Polyester. Patagonia is transparent in the image they put out into the world. Even though they also use Polyester in their garments, they make it clear and understandable where this Polyester is extracted from, plastic rubbish, bottles, etc. It is an alternative to Virgin Petroleum Polyester which is completely non-renewable. Patagonia is transparent in a sense that they do not deny using plastics, but rather enhances why and how they use their plastics for a better cause. They are focused on quality over quantity and are making their garments in a way that it can endure and last for a much longer time than other fast fashion brands. 


Fast fashion is the business model of disposability


Instead of having one line of fashion, fast fashion promotes trends, seasonal clothing based on what is “in”, etc. and they base all these fashion garments on synthetic plastic.The fast fashion industry is growing bigger and bigger everyday and although fingers point only to the consumer, the bigger issue is the way that it is marketed into the world, convincing individuals to buy. People are being brainwashed into buying more clothes for less money and to always be trendy and up to date with the latest style, creating an even bigger chain of overconsumption. This market is exploding. 


We are facing an issue in this era of not knowing what to do with everything we have consumed. It is physically impossible to sustainably get rid of everything produced in the world. The scale is unbalanced. On average we throw out 80 pounds of clothes per person in a year. These clothes at some point have nowhere to go anymore and end up in landfills where they heap up to the point where they get burned and release all the carbon into the atmosphere. Even though donating things seems like a good-hearted thing to do, it is in some cases killing our planet. The matter of fact is that this issue is too big to be just handled by consumers. Legislations and laws need to be seriously implemented as soon as possible.

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