In continuation to our A-Z series of Part 1, let's learn the Alphabets with a different approach:
J- JOB WORKERS/SUB CONTRACTOR
Since the subcontractors are not a part of a brand’s supply chain policy, it is natural that attention is not paid to ensure that all the policies of the brand are made applicable for the sub-contractor as well. Many policies such as disclosure of supply chain, business practices, CSR activities etc. exclude sub-contractors.
Traceability is an important aspect that enables fashion companies to be in a position to collaborate more productively with their peers and external stakeholders on sustainability. It also equips the companies with enough data to credibly communicate with the customers about the impact of their sustainability initiatives.
Overall, we see that companies are increasing the visibility of their supply chain, although the focus still lies mainly on the processing and garment manufacturing stages and few companies have achieved complete transparency. Read more about the slavery in fashion here.
K- KANTAMANTO MARKET
Why are we talking about a second hand market in Ghana?
Although this is the largest second hand clothing market in Ghana, there are many more across Ghana and other countries too that share similar problems.
With a population of 30 Million, it’s obvious that not all the clothing unloaded in Kantamanto market would find a home. It is estimated that 40% of the clothing in each bale becomes waste. This waste is dumped in already overflowing landfills, incinerated in its neighborhoods or dumped into the Gulf of Guinea. In 2017, the second hand clothing market waste itself used up 20% of the planned capacity of Kpone landfill in the city of Accra.
There is a good reason why we are proud to use post-consumer textile material for making our products. You can read more about Chindi Bazaars & recycling of textiles in Panipat in our articles here.
L- LIVING WAGE & EQUAL PAY
While interacting with laborers in this industry, we increasingly realize the plight of a wage worker. Based on the earnings of a normal worker, we learn that their living expenses such as home rent, food, clothing, travelling etc. take away most of their income. This leaves very little surplus for other needs such as entertainment, and education. In times of health crisis, there is no other option than to borrow money.
Here, we are not even talking about personal and social development expenses. Offering a living wage involves addressing all such needs of a worker.
We place specific emphasis on equal pay regardless of gender. This is especially important in our society where women are typically paid lesser than men for an equal amount of work under the perception that their productivity is lesser. dwij tries to address above issue in all possible ways.
M- MATERIAL MIX
The type of materials used drives a brand’s environmental footprint. Owing to pros and cons of each material available commercially, it’s important to carefully pick a material based on its end use. For example, cotton production globally uses approx. a quarter of the world’s insecticides and herbicide, while replacing it with organic cotton can save 62% of the energy demand.
At first sight, natural plant fibres appear more sustainable, however conventional cotton production is one of the biggest water consuming industry in agriculture. Natural animal has its unique qualities, but along with it are associated various malpractices such as forced feeding, live plucking, unethical slaughter etc. Leather too has a negative impact in the form of excessive chemicals used in processing. However, vegan faux leather is not sustainable either.
Are man-made fibres the alternative? Well, they are in fact really promising in terms of durability but rank low since they are reliant on fossil fuels and also lead to micro plastic pollution.
Cellulosic fibres present an opportunity only if it is scalable and their impact on deforestation and land degradation can be decreased. This however needs more innovation and research.
It is important that the right materials are used based on the end-use to ensure that the shortcomings of each material are traded off with the utility value.
We are sure you would think about this the next time you go shopping.
N- NYLON (POLYAMIDE)
Nylon is the common name for polyamide, the first synthetic fibre that was invented in 1939. Today, nylon has penetrated in most of the segments of the garment industry owing to its properties such as elasticity and tenacity. It finds common use even in jeans, to add stretch ability factor. Worldwide, this accounts for 5% of global textile production.
Recycling of polyamide helps reduce dependency on fossil raw materials. As per @TextileExchange, every 10,000 metres of recycled polyamide saves 70,000 barrels of oil. Innovations are seen in recent times in commercially available recycled alternatives. However, it still doesn’t solve the problem of microplastics i.e. small particles of nylon leeching into water whenever the garment is washed.
To be practical, we cannot abandon synthetic fibres entirely. However, as a consumer we can definitely demand more sustainable fashion supply chains by asking brands to abandon virgin plastic fibres, and to support research and innovation into solutions for microplastic shedding.
O- OUTFLOW OF GLOBAL MATERIALS
Less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, 13 representing a loss of more than USD 100 billion worth of materials each year. As well as significant value losses, high costs are associated with disposal: for example, the estimated cost to the UK economy of landfilling clothing and household textiles each year is approximately GBP 82 million (USD 108 million).
Across the industry, only 13% of the total material input is in some way recycled after clothing use. Most of this recycling consists of cascading to other industries and use in lower-value applications, for example, insulation material, wiping cloths, and mattress stuffing – all of which are currently difficult to recapture and therefore likely constitute the final use.
Even though some countries have high collection rates for reuse and recycling (such as Germany, which collects 75% of textiles), much of the collected clothing in such countries is exported to countries with no collection infrastructure of their own. These valuable efforts increase clothing utilization, though ultimately most of these clothes end up in landfills or are cascaded to lower-value applications. Read the myths vs truth in the industry.
Polyester, along with other synthetic materials like nylon, acrylic, spandex etc. are all examples of Synthetic fibres. These are majorly by-products of fossil fuel or involve heavy usage of chemicals. Microfibers are small plastic particles (between 5mm in length to 0.1 mm in length). They arise from two sources, primary and secondary. Primary sources are microplastics that have been made to be that size (for example, microbeads in cosmetics or plastic glitter), while secondary sources arise from manufacturing and washing of synthetic textiles, or fragmented or disintegrated pieces of polyethene carry bag.
Microfibers are also a very important source of marine pollution.
Q- QUALITY CONTROL
Quality control doesn’t necessarily mean the end product. Quality also implies that the workers who made your product are paid a living wage and are treated with dignity. This aspect is often ignored. We urge you to support brands that you know pay attention to all these aspects as well.
Is there anything else in your quality checklist? Don't you think a sustainable future can be planned without having quality control in your mind?
Check out how what quality checks we follow and make our products sustainable?