International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications

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These microfibers are minute and can easily pass through sewage and wastewater treatment plants into our waterways, but because they do not biodegrade, they represent a serious threat to aquatic life. Small creatures such as plankton eat the microfibers, which then make their way up the food chain to fish eaten by humans.” The devastating impact of toxic chemical use in agriculture, for growing cotton, was shown in a documentary called The True Cost, including the death of a US cotton farmer from a brain tumour, and serious birth defects in Indian cotton farmers’ children. Cotton growing requires high levels of water and pesticides to prevent crop failure, which can be problematic in developing countries that may lack sufficient investment and be at risk of drought. Most cotton grown worldwide is genetically modified to be resistant to the bollworm pest, thereby improving yield and reducing pesticide use. But this can also lead to problems further down the line, such as the emergence of “superweeds” which are resistant to standard pesticides. They often need to be treated with more toxic pesticides that are harmful to livestock and humans (The Independent).

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According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro-biotech organisation, genetically modified (GM) cotton accounted for 64% of cotton grown in 2016. For some campaigners, growing GM plants in open fields are ‘the pollution you can’t put back’. Impacts of plant escapes from GM fields and potential interbreeding are insufficiently understood risks. Also, farmers are unable to save their seeds and can get locked into a cycle of debt, unable to cover the costs of the more expensive agricultural inputs of seeds and chemicals. According to the US Department of Labour, cotton is one of the goods most commonly produced with forced labour. Forced labour exists in nine countries producing 65% of the world’s cotton. Those countries being Benin, Burkina Faso, China, India, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Forced labour in cotton production remains remains to be widespread in Uzbekistan. Farmers are ordered to grow cotton by the government as well as every year at harvest time, the government relocates one million citizens, including teachers and doctors, to leave their jobs for weeks at a time and go to the fields to pick cotton. All of the profits of this cotton goes into the pockets of Uzbekistan’s powerful elite groups. (The Ethical Consumer).

Slowly the fashion industry is starting to take notice that being green is the new black. Consumers are becoming more interested in sustainability and being more conscious of the environmental impact that their shopping addiction has on the planet. Big brands like Adidas and H&M have even used plastic waste from the ocean as the sole ingredient in some of their products. When big name faces like Emma Watson are seen sporting a gown by high profile designers like Calvin Klein at the Met Gala made entirely of plastic bottles in support of sustainable fashion, it really pushes everyday consumers to follow in the same footsteps when they are shopping for clothing. Companies are also trying to get in on the ground floor of the fashion production game by finding ways to make clothing sustainable from the time the fibers are made to when the clothing is getting thrown out by its owner. Wonderful innovations have been made with hopes of decreasing the environmental impact of fashion. A startup has decided to use the wasted orange peels that come from producing orange juice to create yarn. While there is currently only a working prototype for this citrus byproduct yarn, they are in the works to make this process a reality. Another company is trying to use algae to create fabric. This company hopes that fast growing algae can replace cotton because algae, unlike cotton, keeps land free, does not need insecticides, and only needs the water from the lakes and oceans it grows in. Some companies are going more in the direction of recycling; turning cotton into new clothing is one of them. A new process has been developed that uses a solvent, that is environmentally friendly, to dissolve old cotton clothing into a cotton like material which eliminates waste. A similar company is trying to recycle polyester using polyester-eating microbes. These microbes are able to turn clothing into raw material that is sold back to polyester manufacturers.

Internationally, sustainable fashion is coming into fruition. In Australia, ” The Great Beyond uses hardy, fast-growing bamboo to create soft, durable basics with impressive environmental benefits, while [in Canada ] Matt & Nat uses renewable materials like cork and rubber for their all-vegan products” (Groundwork). In the Philippines, Ananas Anam uses pineapple leaf fibers as a leather alternative called Pií±atex. The process to create this material “uses byproducts of pineapple harvest itself, so it takes no additional land, water, pesticides, or fertilizer beyond what’s already used to grow the pineapples in the first place. Compared to the energy-intensive leather industry, that’s a big deal, and partner brands like Camper and Puma have already taken note” (Gorundworks). While most companies seem to be leaving out the ‘reuse’ from the very catchy “reduce, reuse, recycle” slogan, in Sweden some fashion companies are all about it. Some Swedish fashion companies “provide fashion as second hand or have initiated rental systems for leasing clothes, [while others] focus mainly on creating fashion that is of high quality and timeless design, i.e. of long-lasting style and durability. Other companies (e.g. H&M) have set up collection and recycling systems that supports increased textile recycling” (Green Strategy). The way to make promote sustainability in the textile and fashion industry is to get designers globally on board with making a change. The first step that designers can take is designing to replace the desire for consumption: According to the survey, consumers want to know that clothing is produced in a responsible way, but it does not lead directly to purchasing.

In other words, the reason consumers buy clothes is not because the clothes are made in a certain way, but because they look pretty. When people decide to buy clothes for the first time, “I want to buy that coat because is pretty!” and then most people think secondary issue of how the coat was made. That’s the homework designers have to solve. Additionally, designers can reuse fabric by designing clothing with up-cycled fashion. Up- cycling is one step further from recycling. It means to make new things by adding design and value, not just using the same thing that are thrown away. Recycling and upcycling recognize the need to approach fashion form resource-wise perspective. A large step towards promoting sustainability through designers would be the increasing the use of eco-friendly fibers. It is clear that the growth of the fashion industry based on sustainability should go along with the development of technology. The textile industry should develop eco-friendlier new materials. For example, Bionic, a startup venture in New York, makes new fibers from plastic bottles. This fiber then moves on to be Bionic yarn. Bionic yarn is soft, and more durable compared to other materials. On that token, the Spanish garment company Ecoalf is holding hands with fishermen and gathering garbage from the sea and reproducing it with textiles. The fabric was dubbed as “SEATHREAD”, because it was fabric made of marine litter.

Design to minimize waste (Zero Waste): Designers must design to minimize the amount of waste generated in the textile industry. Pattern changes for minimizing waste are representative examples. What can you do to solve the problem? A way to prevent yourself from partaking in a wasteful purchase is the 30 Wears Test. Before buying clothes, think about whether you can wear it at least 30 times. If the answer is yes, then buy it. Do not invest in clothes that you wear once but invest in quality clothes that you can wear many times. The second step you can take is to simply be more informed: Many people still do not know where to start their efforts to increase sustainability. With a little research, you can easily find brands that practice fashion sustainability. Knowing about fashion sustainability makes it easier to make changes in your everyday life. The third step you can take is to shop second-hand: In the fashion industry, second hand clothing plays an important role in reducing the amount of water dyes and bleach used in clothing production. When you purchase second-hand, you are giving that article of clothing a second chance, rather than sending it to the landfill. In every city, there are thrift stores such as Goodwill, Value Village, and Salvation Army. Not only is “thrifting” a sustainable and ethical alternative, but it is rather inexpensive.

The fourth step you can take, is to invest in trans-seasonal clothes, clothing that you can wear throughout all seasons. Jeans, T-shirts, classic dresses, timeless coats and jackets are the beginnings of a sustainable wardrobe. The fifth step you can take is to donate your unwanted clothes. The best way to do this is to implement one-in, one-out policies. Every time you buy something new, donate something from your wardrobe. This step promotes ethical consumption behaviors. The sixth step you can take is to learn how to repair clothing yourself or find a good tailor. Instead of throwing clothing away when something rips, learn how to repair it yourself or find a local tailor. And finally, the biggest thing that we can all do is simply this: change your mind and perspective. In fact, it is not easy for a consumer to have all their clothes in this way. The proper waste is the lubrication oil that can be sustained in modern society as well as human nature. If the rules make a person too tired and just become obsessed, they become burdensome and lose interest. It is now important to set as many habits as you can. This approach will be the safest way to sustain sustainable fashion by creating a society that not only protects the environment buy is thoughts to be a better thing. It is important to realize that even if you are only one piece of organic T-shirt, you can exert a great influence if all the small changes of individual are gathered together.

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International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved December 10, 2022 , from

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