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Figuring out the meaning of sustainability

Kingpins Founder Andrew Olah says sustainability has been bandied about too freely. But adding linen or organic cotton or anything recycled to fabrics does not make for sustainability. Neither consumers nor denim fabric buyers have any idea who is telling the truth and what is sustainable and what is nonsense. Even mills, brands and retailers can’t agree on what sustainable means.

Ola says without data or third-party verification, there is no proof of sustainability. A product cannot be considered sustainable without a full environmental impact analysis and credible third-party verification. A mill’s claim alone that it uses less water does not make the product sustainable. Sustainable claims need a full environmental footprint analysis. The first step to sustainability for any mill or product is to run a full assessment of its entire environmental impact. All of it, water consumption, carbon, energy waste etc. Stuffing hemp in a fabric does not make it sustainable if other things the mill does are harmful.

Tons of apparel and footwear are purchased each year. This growth comes at a huge environmental cost. If growth in fashion continues along its current trajectory, by 2050 the textile industry would account for around a quarter of the world’s total allowable carbon emissions. In order to circumvent the eco impact, leading companies are coming up with sustainable solutions to chart green growth.