To understand why the Margo Paige team feels so strongly about embodying a sustainable business model, it's helpful to take a step back and look at the industry that we are a part of: the fashion industry. When it comes to environmental and social impact, the fashion industry doesn't have the best reputation - and that's saying it kindly.
Univ of Queensland Fashion and Waste
While it's not pretty, it's important to have a realistic look at what the fashion industry's impacts are:
Fashion Industry & the Environment
- The fashion industry as a whole contributes nearly 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it one of the largest industry contributors, behind transportation and agriculture.
- The fashion industry is the second largest consumer of freshwater resources, behind the agriculture industry.
- The industry generates 4% of the world’s waste each year (Pulse of the Fashion Industry Report)
- While strides have been made to reduce the fashion industry's impact on climate change, this McKinsey and Co. study shows that the industry is nowhere close to meeting the IPCC's scenarios that allow us to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees celsius.
- EPA data shows that approximately 85% of textile production ends up in landfill each year.
While these statistics don't paint a pretty picture, the industry wasn't always this way! In fact, it wasn't too long ago that our relationship with fashion looked pretty different. Prior to technological advancements and the automation of manufacturing, garments and accessories took longer to create and were held at a higher premium. As such, people owned far fewer pieces of clothing, bags, etc. Garments and accessories were designed to last the user a long time and serve a function. If something were to get damaged, the default action was to repair the item instead of purchasing new right away.
However, as international trade and globalism became more fluid and technological advancements in manufacturing came about, this paradigm started to shift. The concept of "fast fashion" was born. Fast fashion is lingo for a production process that prioritizes speed and cheap materials, and typically disregards environmental and social welfare in the process. Fast fashion brought prices of clothes and accessories down and made them more readily available. Despite the fact that these pieces were not durable and low quality, fast fashion was accessible and trendy, and thus became the norm in mainstream consumption.
Fast Fashion Model
Our current relationship with fashion (in the United States) is generally to consume high quantities of low-quality products. Products reach their end-of-life quickly and wind up in landfills, and the economic availability of replacements makes repairs less popular.
In fact, today's American consumers purchase 400% more items than we did just two decades ago. In accordance with the fast fashion cycle, the average American also generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year.
It's important to remember that the fashion industry hasn't always had such a disproportionate impact on the environment and society. We've only been in this modern "fast fashion paradigm" for a few decades - and there is still time to reverse it.
As a brand, Margo Paige takes pride in steering our business away from fast fashion principles. While manufacturing and distributing a product always has some environmental impact, we always knew we could not let our business disproportionately contribute to the waste and pollution of our industry. Since our founding, we've been working on solutions to avoid those negative consequences.
Margo Paige is combatting fast fashion pitfalls and doing our part to shift the fashion industry by:
- Sourcing recycled materials - by using recycled vinyl and nylon in our bags, we do not create any demand for new raw materials that require fossil fuels to produce.
- Manufacturing with partners that conserve water and monitor their greenhouse emissions in their processes
- Integrating sustainability in the initial conception and design process - this allows us to consider functionality, materials selection, recyclability, etc. for a product before it is physically created.
- Creating an end-of-life plan for our products - although Margo Paige are designed to be durable and last a long time (contrary to fast fashion principles), there is still a realistic point in which the product may need to move towards its second function. We are working to keep all Margo Paige products out of landfill and continuously in the circular economy.