Making a difference through eco-friendly fashion - GulfToday

Making a difference through eco-friendly fashion

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.


The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

A Delhi-based fashion brand Doodlage provides the perfect antidote to fast fashion by making chic garments with scraps of waste cloth. Designing clothes out of scraps of fabric and second-hand garments, Doodlage’s creative team dreams up new designs and sells its wares in 30 shops and online.

Bringing us this environment success story is the second season of Eco India – a collaboration between and DW – which is a showcase for innovative concepts and projects from India and Europe on environmental sustainability.

Realising that garment industries were a major contributor to the fabric waste that chokes landfills, the Doodlage team decided to upcycle this waste. They collect these wastes from large fabric manufacturers to create fashion products. Doodlage also ends up generating waste. But unlike other brands, this waste doesn’t go to the dump yard. The waste they create is shredded to create new fabric that goes into home furnishings and bags. This label is targeted at anyone between 18 and 45 years. The idea is to make ethical fashion readily available for anyone.

Every week, Eco India – a sustainability magazine show that trains the spotlight on innovations and solutions towards a more resilient future – highlights Indian eco heroes, often regular citizens, environmental activists, organisations and even kids, addressing a pressing ecological issue in their community.

It brings you the stories, people, challenges and innovations that are changing India’s approach to environmental issues. With this local focus, EcoIndia puts a spotlight on India’s movement towards sustainable and ecological development – one person, city and region at a time. Some highlights include entrepreneurial solutions to metropolitan waste management, cleaning rivers and fighting noise pollution.

Each episode also includes segments on European cities and sustainable practices that demonstrate how environmental preservation is truly a global issue and solutions require international cooperation.

Radical changes needed: According to the UN Environment, the fashion industry needs to radically alter patterns of consumption to ensure the survival of the planet. It produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. Washing clothes also releases half a million tons of microfibers into the ocean every year. The industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, generating around 20 per cent of the world’s wastewater and releasing half a million tons of synthetic microfibers into the ocean annually. The average consumer buys 60 per cent more pieces of clothing than 15 years ago. Each item is only kept for half as long.

On 14 March 2019, the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion, was launched at the UN Environment Assembly, and seeks to halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion, and instead harness the industry as a driver for improving the world’s ecosystems. The Alliance is improving collaboration among UN agencies by analysing their efforts in making fashion sustainable, identifying solutions and gaps in their actions, and presenting these findings to governments to trigger policy.

It creates a common platform and dialogue for a host of UN agencies that are working to make fashion sustainable: The Food and Agricultural Organization is promoting Blue Fashion, which uses sustainable marine materials and protects arable land; the International Trade Centre has set-up the Ethical Fashion Initiative to spotlight artisans from the developing world; and UN Environment is pushing governments to foster sustainable manufacturing practices.

The fashion industry is valued at around $2.4 trillion and employs over 75 million people worldwide. It loses about $500 billion of value every year due to the lack of recycling and clothes that are thrown into landfill before ever being sold. Textile workers are often paid derisory wages and forced to work long hours in appalling conditions.

The implications of sustainable fashion are, therefore, not confined to the environment, but also social impacts. Greening the value-chain creates new jobs and opportunities for rural workers, especially smallholder farmers or those working in forestry. With consumers increasingly demanding change, the fashion world is finally responding with A-listers, leading the way with their clothing choices and designers looking to break the take-make-waste model.

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