The textile, clothing, and fashion industries combine to create a massive impact on the planet and people who work along the apparel manufacturing supply chain.  My latest article on The Guardian covers this issue on Guardian Sustainable Business’ Waste & Recycling Hub.

It was not always this way.  Older relatives in my family recalled the one nice coat, a few shirts and pants, and a pair of shoes that they meticulously ironed, polished, and repaired if necessary.

No longer.  Cheap fashion has been part of our daily lives for years and the textile industry has long been shipped abroad where workers often toil in horrid conditions.

Companies are starting to respond.  Walmart, for example, is close to sourcing children’s clothes that are only made from organic cotton.  The shift is described in Edward Humes’ book, Force of Nature.  One of the book’s most engrossing part is when Humes describes a moment when a sustainability consultant tossed a Walmart executive a plastic bag of sand to demonstrate how much pesticides go into making one cotton shirt.  The point was made, and now Walmart is the largest retailer of organic cotton clothes on the planet.

Nevertheless, much work needs to be done, and more innovation is necessary to deal with both waste and wanted clothes.  Recycling and waste diversion only scratch the surface of this problem.

Of course, there is one solution:  buy better made and therefore, less clothing.

Read the entire article and share your thoughts.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.