The big picture
COP26 is over – the governments of the world’s nations have done their best (we hope).
But, the environmental challenges remain and, everyone has their part to play in addressing the issues. People, especially students and young adults, from around the world will continue to make their voices heard—hoping that, and pushing, decision-makers enact policies and changes that protect the earth and future generations from the worsening human impacts on climate.
Impact of clothing on the environment
The worldwide manufacture and shipment of garments and the subsequent washing, ironing and disposal of the clothing have a massive impact on the environment. If you research the “impacts of fast fashion on the environment”, the data and reported analyses are scary. Fast fashion is a significant problem in its own right. But, clothing that is not classified as fast fashion also plays a part. Longer-life clothing items like hoodies are worn for years rather than just weeks or months and, consequently, have a lesser impact on the environment but still have an effect.
So far, there haven’t been any clear national or international guidelines addressing clothing specifically. It is currently for each country, company and individual to make their own choices.
So what impact can a few eco-friendly / sustainable hoodies have on the climate?
Each year leavers buy hoodies to celebrate the end of their time at school. Teams buy hoodies, t-shirts or full team strips to make clear their support for the team they play for and support. Members of university societies, clubs and groups buy clothing to indicate their membership. Businesses buy hoodies and outerwear to help establish their brand and to foster a team spirit and approach.
No one is suggesting that everyone should stop wearing or buying clothes. It might get a bit chilly if we did!
Awareness/consideration of the environmental impact
The school leavers of the last few years, and the next few, are likely to be the leaders of industry, society and possibly even government in the period when climate change is taking its greatest toll on mankind. The awareness of this age group about the impact of their (and everyone else’s) actions on the environment is growing significantly and quickly.
In recent years, there has been a relatively low demand for eco-friendly/sustainable hoodies decorated and personalised for leavers, teams, societies etc. Many people have focussed on garment price as the prime consideration when selecting what to buy in their hoodie orders. After price, customer service from the supplier/decorator has been an important factor in the buying decision. Service, of course, doesn’t change depending on the materials or manufacturing processes used to make the garment.
Sometimes, leavers hoodies organisers ask about the options for ‘green’ hoodies. First, we check that they are not talking about the colour of the garments. Then, we are happy to quote for, and supply, environmentally friendly clothing.
We forecast that the uptake of such clothing will grow massively over the next few years. We also expected that, for many people, clothing will be expected to last longer, rather than be disposed of after just a few wears. This will mean the purchase decision will be looking for better quality, environmentally friendly clothing. The willingness to pay a small premium for this will is also forecast to increase.
At the same time, there is a significant push to develop new materials which lessen the lifetime impact on the environment. These materials, once developed, will become the basis for future garments including leavers wear etc.
In a future article, we will look in more detail at the different elements of environmentally friendly hoodies.