Behind oil, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world.
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, accounting for a tenth of the global carbon footprint. The fashion industry is also the second largest polluter of freshwater sources owing to the cultivation of crops to obtain textiles like cotton and silk as well as the production of fibers like wool through animal husbandry.
The production of synthetic fibers such as nylon and polyester, too, come at great environmental costs. Worse still: due in part to the transient nature of fashionable clothing styles, the industry is responsible for generating vast amounts of waste, much of which is left unrecycled.
Encouragingly, however, environmentally conscious designers and clothing manufacturers are adopting more sustainable practices. One up-and-coming designer is Daniel Silverstein, aka Zero Waste Daniel, who creates streetwear entirely from fabric scraps destined for landfills.
Silverstein is also conducting educational workshops in his store in Brooklyn, New York, with the aim of imparting the importance of sustainability in fashion. He has spoken to Sustainability Times.
The fashion industry has a very large environmental impact. Why do you think that is?
According to an EPA report, behind oil, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world. This has to do with its deep impacts across multiple agricultural and industrial practices. We are talking about products that start with farms, livestock, oil, fuel, and not to mention human resources. In an industry that is focused on access and quick turnaround you can imagine how utilizing every single one of these resources and materials can be incredibly harmful to the environment.
How did you get into fashion design and why did you decide to embrace sustainability in your designs?
I’ve always been interested in fashion design. Since I was a little kid I’ve been making dresses and costumes; tying, knotting and sewing fabric and even working with scrap material.
Now that I am turning 30, I see myself as a grown-up version of my childhood self. I’m still experimenting with waste and design to make beautiful creations out of leftover materials.
What are the best ways do you think that the industry can employ to reduce its environmental impacts?
The number one thing we can all do to reduce our environmental impact is to work with what we already have. The less electricity, the fewer resources, and the less man-made our products are, the more sustainable they will be. But until we can get to a point where we can shift large industries toward sustainable practices, it’s best for everyone to think about responsible consumption. It goes without saying that less waste is better.
What can consumers themselves do?
Consumers have a lot of power. We actually are the ones who decide what gets made, and right now we are being enticed with excessive convenience. Choosing to invest in practices and products that environmentally friendly are always a great way to shift consumer dollars from the evils of convenience to the truly eye-opening and inspiring sustainable practices that are out there.
Could you tell us about your workshops?
My shop features an exciting education space where we have been making and customizing patches with Google Pixelbook and learning all kinds of fine hand sewing techniques. I also have featured artists who come in for workshops and host school groups and tours to discuss zero waste design practices.