The Global Eco-wakening: Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation
The Global Eco-wakening: Why Sustainability is Now the Key Driver of Innovation

Nowadays, more brands are stepping forward to incorporate sustainable clothing and they are creating it by giving it a stylish twist based on ongoing fashion trends. For instance, most fast-fashion retailers are looking at ways to cut down their carbon footprints and are working towards a sustainable future. The manufacturing process is witnessing a transformation. Fashion retailers and apparel manufacturers are opting for nature-based fabrics. Chemical usage in processing and dyeing fabrics has been reduced considerably. Fabrics that are made with closed-loop processes help in conservation and ensure optimum use of resources. Industries are incorporating modern technology that enables them to reduce water consumption.

For instance, Liva is created by extracting cellulose from wood pulp that is generated from trees grown specifically to maintain green measures. Fibers sourced from certified sustainable forests help enhance the fluidity and softness of the fabric. These fabrics save landfills 6-7 times more than cotton and consume 3-4 times lesser water. 

Sustainable Fashion in Modern Times 

Sustainable fashion in modern times is considered by looking at every stage in the supply chain: design, material procurement, processing and production, transportation, distribution, end of life, and understanding of companies’ initiatives. How financial material factors are assessed based on the impact on nature - how polluting and intense the water usage and carbon emissions are during processing; labor - balancing the positive, such as poverty alleviation, while ensuring proper waste management at the pre/post-consumer stage, are all important.

Here are four factors that need to be addressed in the fashion industry in order to move towards sustainability:- 
•    using more sustainable materials,
•    minimizing the carbon footprint of the industry and improving resource efficiency,
•    reducing waste,
•    and, perhaps the least talked about, making the industry transparent and easy to understand for the consumer

Initiatives by Industry Toward Sustainability

The first step for many companies is to implement recycling programs. The increasing environmental pressure has been building over a period of time on our ecosystem warranting reconsideration of our economic paradigm. This urges commercial industries around the world to increase the efficiency of natural resource use and reduce the overall environmental impact. 

Manufacturing units are making use of solar energy which is very beneficial in the conservation of depletable resources. Nowadays, fashion brands are becoming environmentally responsible by leveraging technology to and automating production and make packaging more sustainable. Bio-degradable packaging like corn starch, glassine, hemp, and craft paper are some innovative solutions that brands are opting for. Utilization of bacteria-based dyes, deploying a blockchain-based supply chain, and introducing traceability to increase transparency are some new-age solutions to better achieve the cause of sustainability.

How Interested are Consumers in Buying Sustainable Fashion?

The consumer is pretty mixed. A typical consumer is not uniform in their purchasing behavior. They might be buying from both a fast-fashion company and a more circularity-minded one. Consumer sentiment versus actual purchasing behavior is a really interesting point of discussion. We know Millennials and Gen-Zs tend to prefer more sustainable fashion as it has seen exponential growth over the years. The fact that most sales occurred online benefited tailwinds for the sector—value, variety, and sustainability. 

The Upcoming Wave of Innovations in a Sustainable Fashion 

The evolution of digital traceability and how it can increase transparency in the supply chain has become a reliable option. This technology could also enable brands to trace their supply chains from raw materials to finished goods and monitor suppliers for compliance. Companies can thus strategically target potential risks in their supply chains. Some firms are also working on unique digital passports that are tied to a specific garment. This might be a QR code or RFID that presents to both consumers and companies where something was manufactured, what the materials are, how many times it’s been owned by someone, and end-of-life information such as the most effective recycling practice. We’re in the first innings; this digital infrastructure will take an incredible amount of investment and time. Also, the digital printing tech emergence has enabled designers to take their ideas from concept to garment in a much faster time frame and open new avenues of creativity. 

Awakening of Sustainable Sanitary Pads

Personal hygiene practices for women do not come without their challenges as waste. The waste generated by sanitary napkins and tampons comprises millions of tons and could be potentially an avoidable waste if we have a layer-by-layer approach to making a fully biodegradable sanitary napkin.

The need of the hour is not only to make menstruation a positive experience for women but also to develop a product that could help solve the plastic challenge faced due to the global consumption of plastic-based single-use sanitary pads. Viscose, a cellulosic fiber derived from wood pulp is commonly used as a silk substitute due to its smooth and soft feel. Viscose fiber by nature has hydrophilic properties that have the ability to repel moisture and keep the surface dry. For example, Purocel Ecodry is one such brand that produces viscose fiber that is perfectly suited for super soft non-woven applications on sanitary pads and is also fully bio-degradable.

Aspiring intimate hygiene brands are now on a mission to bring positive change in women’s health and hygiene through plastic-free natural sanitary pads at affordable cost and to reduce/ eliminate plastic waste from the earth by educating girls/ women to switch to natural and sustainable sanitary pads.

With concerns about climate change intensifying globally, now is the time to emphasize the importance of menstrual products that are environmentally friendly. We as a community need to ensure that along with making menstruation a comfortable phase of life for women of the country, we must push for the awareness and adoption of ‘green’ products to usher in a sustainable menstrual ecosystem in India.    

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