April is Earth Month, so naturally it’s the perfect opportunity for the fashion world (and, it goes without saying, the world over) to stand up and do what they can to take action. The latest venture into green comes from the CFDA and Vogue with Clean by Design, a new partnership with National Resources Defense Counsel. The council hosted a luncheon yesterday to announce the initiative, the premise of which could seem a bit strange — how does fashion directly impact the environment? Experts were in attendance to clear up the connection between the two, and promotional videos detailing the situation were also shown to describe “how toxic fashion’s impact on nature can be.” The videos showed rivers in China running with dyes and explained that it takes over 200 tons of water just to produce one single ton of fabric, a figure that’s much more alarming when you consider that our demand for clean, safe drinking water is set to double over the next forty years.
In the past, attempts to curtail the fashion industry’s carbon footprint have been difficult due largely in part to the fact that many, if not most, brands produce out of China. Not only is the source on the other side of the world, but there’s little information given as to what exactly goes on in their factories, making it difficult for America and Europe-based brands to oversee the production. Linda Greer, director of the NRDC’s health and environment program, ostensibly traveled to Asia to try and get an idea. “What we found when we got there,” Greer said, “was that the standard of operation of many, if not most, factories was far below global standards and desperately needed to improve … The era of operating without knowledge of your factories abroad is ending, and the curtain is rising above the sorts of problems and aspirations that we have abroad,” she continued. “It’s really time to get moving and not just figure that ‘It’s halfway around the world and nobody will ever know.’”
That kind of dismissive, “out of sight, out of mind” approach to manufacturing (and, in the same vein, consumerism) is precisely what makes fashion’s negative impact on nature so large and desperately in need of reduction. It seems — or one would hope — that the days of sketchy production are about to come to an end, and not a moment too soon. [Fashionista, image courtesy of NRDC via Fashionista]