Working eco-friendly, wearing eco-friendly

Japanese fashion designer working in studio.

Businesses around the world are jumping on the eco-train, doing everything they can to ensure they are keeping up with the green movement. Not only does greenifying your office or operation make good environmental sense, it makes good business sense. Shareholders know customers appreciate a green business initiative just as much as the environment does.

But making your office paperless and encouraging carpooling is old news, and won’t go far to impress the PR department. So what will? Sustainable fashion. It’s a term thrown around at high-fashion exhibitions and by ritzy designers in Milan, but the waste produced by the fashion industry is nothing to turn your nose up at.

Fashion is the second largest polluting industry in the world. Every year the we produce, buy, wear and throw out 80 million garments. Cotton is the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop, using 25 percent of the worlds pesticides.

Next time your corporate procurement team decides to institute new uniforms, or HR rolls out a new office dress policy, consider that they may be contributing to humanity’s second largest source of pollution and environmental disruption.

Fast fashion

Fast fashion is a term most of us are familiar with. Like fast food, clothing companies produce low-cost garments extremely quickly, place relatively slim margins on each item, and pro t off incredibly high product turnover. A sound business principal.

As a result of its success, the fast fashion model is now the primary method of the fashion production. This means that nearly everyone buys, wears and throws out clothes on a regular basis, including what we wear to work every day.

If we are to reduce our contribution to fashion waste, let’s start at the workplace. How can EAs, office managers, or executives take a step in the right direction?

Sustainable fashion

It’s all well and good to visit trendy op-shops and pick up unique items
for cheap. But in the corporate world, you can’t show up to a board meeting wearing a hemp shirt from 1974 that has seen one too many Alice Cooper gigs. Corporate fashion is about appearing and feeling professional. People wear clothes in business not just for themselves, but for a purpose. Presentability is key. Finding attire that is both sustainable and professional is now easier than ever.

Finding your fit

There are plenty of online shops, brick and mortar stores and brands that have filled the eco-corporate fashion market. Albeit they are generally more expensive than your average garment, the saturation of the eld means that buyers are now more spoilt for choice than ever before.

Depending on where you’re based, your options vary. A quick google search for sustainable fashion outlets

in your home city or town is always a good place to start, but it is easy to be tricked into purchasing eco-branded but not environmentally friendly clothes. It’s important to know what components of a garment contribute to environmental damage. Cotton is easily the worst offender.

25 percent of the world’s pesticides are alone used to produce cotton. Cotton is also incredibly thirsty. It takes 7600 litres of water to produce enough cotton for one pair of jeans. The Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was once the world’s sixth largest lake, and sustained a whole economy of fishing and tourism on its shores. Since the diversion of the sea’s primary inlets to farm cotton, the sea has shrunk to 10 percent of its previous volume. It has been described as one of the world’s worst environmental disasters.

Alternatives to cotton, such as hemp or bamboo are now readily available and leave much a much smaller eco- footprint. Next time you nd yourself shopping for a new blazer, or helping the procurement department source new uniforms, consider a green initiative. The world will love you for it, and so will your shareholders. S