Many new Canadian brands are emerging, sharing a common goal of reducing the environmental impact of producing new clothing by offering more sustainable options.
Jaclyn Patterson, the founder of Shopwise, says, “I started my business after learning about the seriousness of the climate crisis and how the fashion industry contributes to that.”
Shopwise says it prioritizes paying workers a livable wage and reducing the environmental footprint by selling clothing and accessories that are made using ethical and sustainable practices.
“With concerns around the fashion industry’s large contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, consumers worldwide are demanding for fashion brands to adopt a better supply chain,” says Patterson.
According to this year’s State of Fashion report, the primary energy source in the clothing production process comes from fossil fuel-based electricity, which contributes to carbon emissions.
X University (renaming in process) Professor Anika Kozlowski researches sustainable fashion practices and consumer behaviours. She says, “It takes a lot of energy to make the 100 to 150 billion garments that are being produced every year. That sheer scale of production is highly unsustainable and contributes to anywhere from eight to 10 per cent of emissions to the global carbon economy.”
During the COP26 Climate Summit in Scotland, 130 companies agreed to update the United Nations Fashion Industry Charter, committing to securing 100 per cent of electricity used in fashion manufacturing from renewable resources by 2030.
Companies should be held accountable for over-production instead of blaming consumers for buying too much, says Kozlowski.
Another environmental problem stemming from the fashion industry is its contribution to landfills. According to data from the EPA in 2018, 17 million tons of waste were found in landfills that year.
Redeem Clothing Recycling Inc. is trying to reduce waste by exclusively selling donated apparel. It offers a pickup service in Toronto where consumers can earn points for donating clothing. These points can be redeemed for discounts on things like cooking classes and party services.
“I started Redeem because I love to shop, but felt guilty after learning about the amount of clothing piling up in landfills,” said founder Oghenemine Jarikre. She encourages consumers to shop second-hand to move towards a closed loop system. Common Objective defines a closed loop system as, “A closed loop system is one in which products are designed, manufactured, used and handled so as to circulate within society for as long as possible, with maximum usability, minimum adverse environmental impacts, minimum waste generation, and with the most efficient use of water, energy and other resources throughout their lifecycles.”
Clean fashion expert Lynda O’Malley is seeing a growing number of sustainable fashion brands popping up across Canada. “With growing awareness surrounding climate concerns, sustainable fashion is definitely not a trend and is here to stay,” assures O’Malley.