Sustainability: What and Why
To understand what sustainability means and the importance of it, let’s start with the definition: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” - UN World Commission on Environment and Development
It basically means that anything being produced is done so without adding harm or damage to the environment or life.
A little easier definition can be read as:
“Involving methods that do not completely use or destroy natural resources” - Merriam-Webster
Now that we understand the what, let’s jump into the why.
It’s incredibly important to understand why sustainability is so important for any business, brand, company to adopt.
Let’s start with the fashion industry. The fashion industry is valued at 2.5 trillion $USD and employs over 75 million people worldwide. That is a lot of jobs and resources going to work to make the clothes we wear. When we are done with those clothes, more than 85% go to the dump each year (UNECE,2018) and washing those clothes sends a significant amount of microplastics into the ocean.
Do you pay attention to where your clothes come from? How are they made? Where are they made? What are they made with? What do you do with them after you’re done with them?
Fast Fashion and Its Environmental Impact
- Consumer behavior and fashion production has changed just in the last few years, with 60% more garments purchased in 2014 than 2000. (McKinsey & Company, Ellen MacArthur Foundation). Brands were producing an average of two collections a year in 2000, and it went up to five in 2011. While some brands like Zara and H&M produce 12-24 collections a year ((European Parliament).
- The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second (UNEP, 2018)
- 500,000 tons of microfibers are released into the ocean each year from washing clothes — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017)
- Some 93 billion cubic metres of water – enough to meet the needs of five million people – is used by the fashion industry annually, contributing significantly to water scarcity in some regions (UNCTAD, 2020)
- Approximately 60% of all materials used by the fashion industry are made from plastic (UNEP, 2019)
- 31% of plastic pollution in the ocean is from the fast fashion industry (IUCN)
- If the fashion sector continues on its current trajectory, that share of the carbon budget could jump to 26% by 2050 (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017)
More facts and sources on GenevaEnvironmentNetwork.org and Business Insider
Fast fashion is just one of many examples of how important it is for businesses to adopt better sustainable development practices.
We can all start somewhere and that place is being educated. Now that you have a better understanding of what and why sustainability is important we hope that you support brands and businesses that offer sustainable practices and adopt efforts in helping to keep our waters clean, produce less trash, reduce harm to the environment and our living creatures and self.
Let’s keep our planet a safe and clean place for all!
Surf & Sand
Here at Surf & Sand we believe in fostering sustainability wherever we can, which is why it’s important to us to carry and partner with brands that include sustainability into their own business and practices.
Other great resources: Sustainyourstyle.org
Continue to stay updated and learn more about the brands we carry and their sustainable development practices.