April '18

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Page 46 of 90

A s buyers continue to dig deeper into the ques- tions of where and how their clothes are made, one question that persists is "how eco-conscious are these garments?" This is partially due to more people looking for earth-friendly options, but also has a lot to do specifically with waste patterns in the apparel manufacturing industry. The World Re- search Institute points out ( blog/2017/07/apparel-industrys-environ- mental-impact-6-graphics) that cotton, one of the most widely-used fibers for apparel manufacturing, requires as much as 2,700 liters of water to produce one T- shirt. That excessive consumption puts a heavy strain on water sources in areas like Central Asia, where many garments are produced on a massive scale. These are the same blanks that eventually end up in a decorator's shop. What's more, byproducts from the manufacturing process like pesticides in cotton crops and wastewater from large-scale fabric dyeing contribute to the ongoing issue of global pollution and leave a large carbon footprint. In response to this problem, apparel companies are adapting with new ap- proaches to sourcing, production, and communication with buyers. Even so, buyers should keep a watchful eye when sourcing eco-conscious clothing. EVOLUTION OF ECO Where the eco-conscious culture sits to- day comes from a variety of influences. A 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Ag- riculture cited 250 percent growth in organic operations since 2002 when the department began certifying products. Industries in the or- ganic sector include a large swath of food and bath products, but textiles and garments also fall under this umbrella. 38 || P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 8 Navigating Eco-Conscious Apparel for Decorators B Y M I K E C L A R K Green Mind

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