The Latest Technologies for Sustainability in Fashion

All over the globe, consumers of today are demanding their clothing be more conscientiously sourced and produced. They call for more transparency from the companies they purchase from. This has created a higher demand for sustainable clothing that consumers can feel good about obtaining. In response, designers and brands have been looking for ways to create lines that reduce their environmental impact. The desire to know where our clothing is made and what it's made of has become paramount to many. If you look at the tags on your clothing, they don't reveal very much information, if any. Consumers are asking for answers to these questions and their questions are prompting many changes within the industry.

Fashion is one of the least sustainable industries. It is the world's second most polluting industry, releasing trillions of liters of chemically tainted wastewater. Fashion is also the second largest user of the world's water. It takes 2,700 liters of water just to make one single shirt, through the entire life process. Not to mention, the industry creates millions of tons of waste through throw-away clothes, returns, and overstock.

Innovations in technology are making sustainable practices more plausible than ever before. In some ways technology has been increasing the environmental burden, but new technologies can actually help relieve the environmental burden of the fashion industry. These new technologies allow apparel companies to make strides toward more earth-friendly products, and a more sustainable future.

Waterless Dying

The current way of dying fabric can use up to 75 gallons of water just to dye one pound of fabric. Then there's the wastewater, which releases trillions of liters of chemically tainted water into rivers. Thanks to technology this can all be a thing of the past. Companies AirDye, ColorZen, and DyeCoo have all developed their own version of waterless dying technologies that can totally revolutionize not only the dying process, but the whole industry too. They might be a bit limited at this time however. AirDye and DyeCoo's technologies only work on polyester, and ColorZen's only works on cotton. Even so, this is incredibly promising technology that can help save 50-90% water, tons of energy, as well as keep wastewater from entering the eco-system.

Digital Labels

When you think about it, labels are essentially extra unnecessary fabric. Digital labels would eliminate the need for the extra fabric, allowing companies to forgo the label, and instead use a QR code. Fashion Footprint is the force behind such an idea, trying to change the fashion industry one QR code and one partnership at a time. They partner with companies who are in compliance with internationally recognized standards of production methods. Companies that partner with them get a unique QR label that they can attach to the garments and share with the consumer. This is just the beginning of digital labels, but it could be a powerful tool for encouraging transparency in the industry, as well as save tons of unnecessary fabric. 

Recycled Materials

Why develop new fabric when there are millions of tons of materials out in the world no longer being used? Many companies are doing recycling programs that encourage customers to bring in old garments. They then use these recycled fabrics for new garments. This isn't exactly an exciting concept, but what it's certainly a step in the right direction. What is a compelling concept though is using recycled plastic and converting it into a garment, which more and more companies are starting to do.


Yulex is a company that sustainably sources and produces rubber that is 100% plant based, ultra-pure, non-sensitizing, and manufactured in the United States. Yulex is making sustainable neoprene a reality for the fashion industry. They process with recycled and recharged water supply, which helps cut down on the overconsumption of water and prevents wastewater. In fact, Yulex has a zero-waste production process where they use every last bit of the plant. Maybe someday all natural materials can be produced this way. 


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Photo: H&M