- Within the fashion industry, sustainable design refers to environmental stewardship, such as products that are ecological, organic, or recycled. Sustainable products are those products providing environmental, social, and economic benefit while protecting public health, welfare, and the environment over their full commercial cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to final disposition. Sustainable products cause little or no damage to the environment and are therefore able to continue for a long time. Organically grown natural fibers are produced with little or no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.Sustainable agriculture is an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that, over the long term, satisfy human food and fiber needs but also enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends. Fibers are derived from a variety of sources including plants (cotton, kapok, cotton rayon, flax, hemp, china grass, Manila hemp, New Zealand hemp, west saar hemp, fine jade hemp, and phenix leaf), fruits and vegetables (coconut and corn), wood (straw, culm, and wick grass), and animals (wool, cashmere, camel's wool, mohair, alpaca, ox hair, and angora); fibers from insects (Chinese silkworm, Japanese silkworm, and European silkworm) are grown or cultivated using organic methods.Recycling, or the act of collecting and treating rubbish to produce useful materials that can be used again, is another part of sustainable design. The recycling of soda bottles to produce polar fleece garments began in the 1993 by Dyersburg Corporation. Currently, a movement is underway to recycle clothing made of 100% man-made materials (nylon, polyester) to minimize the volume of chemical fiber clothing on the earth. Antique clothing, which has mostly been a fashion trend, has a new meaning in the sustainable movement. Designers recycle clothing to create new garments and accessories with ecological purpose.The sustainability paradigm shift suggests structural, economic, and social change. According to the World Commission on Environment and Development, there are seven rules to follow to be considered "sustainable": (1) efficiency and cost internalization, (2) environmental integrity, (3) equity (concerning whether developing trade regimes contribute to social justice), (4) international cooperation, (5) openness (examining how developing trade regimes can be negotiated in a transparent, open, and participatory way), (6) science and precaution (of whether developing trade regimes respect the precautionary principle), and (7) subsidiarity (developing trade regimes must contribute to decision-making on the best possible level). Numerous trade organizations are the backbone of the sustainable movement, such as the Sustainable Cotton Project, which works with farmers to develop chemical-free cotton; the Organic Trade Association (OTA), which has hundreds of worldwide companies producing organic fabrics or clothing; and the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO), which is part of a worldwide network of Fair Trade organizations actively involved in supporting producers, raising awareness, and campaigning for changes in the rules and practices of conventional international trade. Major manufacturers such as Nike, Patagonia, Eileen Fisher, and mass retailer Wal-Mart are promoting organic fashion and sustainability, not only in their products but also in the building of their stores and offices.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.
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