According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which works to foster sustainability, clothing production globally roughly doubled from 2000 to 2015. During the same period, the number of times a garment was worn declined by 36 percent. All told, “the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second,” their report found.
Over roughly the same period, according to the World Economic Forum, 60 percent more garments were purchased, but consumers kept them for only half as long.
More than 95% of apparel sold in the USA is imported. In the ‘90s, trade rules were “liberalized” with key changes like China joining the World Trade Organization. “The U.S. went from having quantitative limits on how much apparel could be imported from a variety of countries to having those limits go away,” according to Pietra Rivoli, an economist at Georgetown University and author of “The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy.” But over the past few years, data shows a slight uptick in domestic clothing production. Rivoli notes transportation issues, trade barriers, logistics and waiting for goods to arrive as reasons for this shift back to the USA.
So what can consumers do? Our ideas here are:
- Buying fewer but better quality pieces
- Giving used garments new life with secondhand shopping
- Watching the carbon footprint of our choices and buying local
- Revamping our laundry rituals by trying cold water, line drying and detergents without any phosphates, phthalates, and non-biodegradable surfactants (your skin and the environment will applaud your choice). .
- Choosing brands that pay all workers along the entire supply chain a fair wage. Enriching these lives helps them make sustainable choices of their own.
At Dare Heart we put quality, sustainability and innovation at the forefront. We were pleased to source our production runs with a West Coast garment factory that has survived and thrived since 1958. A visit to the factory gave us the chance to meet the community of garment workers who would be sewing our product. Watching the manager talk respectfully to team members made us confident that this was a solid, well-run organization to help us bring our product to fruition. Our smaller footprint up the West Coast aligned with our desire to make conscientious choices along the supply chain. Bringing you the highest quality goods at a fair price with the least impact on the environment. We are exploring options around organic cotton for future production runs.
What I hope you take away is that your efforts may feel like one drop in the bucket in an ocean full of problems but when enough of our drops come together we start stemming the tide.
Some other companies we love:
- Looptworks … A Portland, Oregon based business that finds new uses for pre- and post-consumer materials and makes limited edition products like bags, T-shirts and accessories.
- thredUP … The resale shopping behemoth and one of our new pandemic habits for replacing wardrobe pieces. Resell your own clothes and replace them with gently used garments.
- Shinola … For lovers of USA-made success stories check out this Detroit-based company with roots in watchmaking and now crafting solid design items like bicycles, jewelry bags and more.
- FARM Rio … For a magical realism, statement-piece splurge, you’ve got to check this company out. They plant one tree for every purchase.