Why Fashion at the Rio+20 Summit?

 

Fashion is a highly visible industry that people can relate to and understand. The climate debate has a tendency to only deal with technical interventions such as turbines and heat pumps, but fashion can make everything more tangible for the individual. The fashion industry also affects social currents and thus other industries, which is why the fashion industry is unique when it comes to spreading sustainable change to the rest of society. Meanwhile, fashion is also great in terms of focusing on our consumption and its effect on the climate”. The Danish Minister of Climate, Energy and Building Martin Lidegaard said this at the Rio +20 Summit. Fashion gives a consumer the option to proactively help with climate change.

Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, second only to oil in terms of its environmental impact. 25% of chemicals produced worldwide are used for textiles and the industry is often noted as the number 2 polluter of clean water – after agriculture. For example, washing clothes, at 30° instead of 40° would, simply on a European scale, mean annual savings equivalent to Ireland’s entire energy consumption. Both the industry and consumers, in other words, exert a heavy influence. The textile industry is the third largest industry in the world, and production of clothes for the growing world population requires huge amounts of energy and water as well as the use of toxic chemicals.

Along with major industry players like H&M, Gucci, PPR Group, and the United Nations Global Compact it is the aim of the Danish Fashion Institute to use the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum as a platform for an increased focus on the environmental, climate and social issues within the global fashion industry and show how the industry can contribute with solutions. Enzymes, a solution discussed at the Rio Summit,  have been used in the production of textiles to save water, raise energy efficiency, and minimize use of chemicals for over 60 years and have already a proven track record of environmental benefits. Life-cycle assessments indicate savings of 70,000 liters of water and 1 ton of CO2 per ton knitted fabric when using enzymes. This equals savings of 20–30 liters of water and a reduction of 0.3 kg CO2 for each T-shirt produced.

via fibre2fashion