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Sustainability Shout-out

Sustainability Shout Out: Nature USA Models Sustainable Clothing Manufacturing

The rise of fast fashion, mass-producing large quantities of clothes that can be sold for low prices, has exponentially increased the amount of textile waste the US produces from 2.3 million tons in 1980 to 11.3 million tons in 2018. Nature USA, a Los Angeles-based sustainable textile manufacturer, is working to turn those numbers around by making sustainable manufacturing the norm.

Negative Environmental Impact of the Fashion Industry

Emissions

Increased Emissions

Sixty-five percent of clothing today is made from polymer-based material, which requires 70 million barrels of oil per year to produce and the production of synthetic fabrics creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times as powerful as carbon dioxide.

Water

Increased Water Uses and Contamination

The fashion industry creates a fifth of global wastewater—which contains hazardous substances including dyes and 35% of all microplastics, a non-biodegradable firm of plastic, in the ocean are byproducts of synthetic textiles. Cotton is water intensive. To produce one kilogram of cotton requires 10,000 liters of water.

Waste

Increased Waste

Fast fashion changed the way the industry operates. Instead of 4 seasons a year, it is now possible to have 10. The increase in seasons drives superfluous clothing production which results in clothes going out of style more frequently, therefore creating more waste. Consumers purchase about 60% more clothing than they did about 15 years ago. In 2018, 3.2 million metric tons of textile in landfills were incinerated, creating further greenhouse emissions as the clothing burns.

Sustainable Clothing Manufacturing

Since Nature USA’s inception in 1997, they have worked to make the fashion industry more sustainable. Not only do they engage in zero-waste manufacturing, but also use eco-friendly fibers that have a minimal environmental footprint. Nature USA uses three types of fabric, two of which are recycled and the other is organic. Their organic cotton is free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides, and uses 88% less water than conventional cotton. Their recycled cotton is made from cutting scraps and post-consumer recycled garments and their recycled polyester is sourced from pre and post-consumer plastic waste, diverting millions of pounds of landfill waste. Nature USA dyeing and finishing process is Bluesign approved, a company dedicated to reducing water waste and toxic chemicals from the textile manufacturing process. Nature USA's textile dyeing process uses 65% less water & 50% less electricity and creates 50% less emission than typical dye houses in the USA, with even greater savings when compared to those operating in Asia.

Zero- Waste Factory & Circular Fashion

Linear v Circular

Nature USA uses a zero-waste factory model. Scraps from cutting are responsible for 80% of waste generated during the clothing manufacturing process. Their factory recycles or up-cycles all of their fabric scraps, diverting thousands of pounds from landfills each year. The remaining waste includes packaging materials and ply bags, which are reused or recycled.

In 2019, Nature USA launched their circular fashion pilot program, the first in the United States, with of eliminating waste. It pushes back on the traditional linear model of clothing manufacturing that ends in landfills. Nature USA creates a loop by collecting every garment they have sold to reuse and upcycle, eliminating waste and increasing the useful life of materials.

Nature USA has been a trailblazer in sustainable clothing manufacturing for decades and continues to make strides in reducing the environmental footprint of the fashion industry. Well done!

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