Environmentally Friendly Uniform: Why businesses should make the change Charlie Davies March 14, 2023 Sustainability In the ever evolving landscape, businesses are increasingly seeking ways to reduce their environmental footprint. There are numerous initiatives that can be taken to achieve this but the environmental impact of a uniform can be often overlooked. A step which is taken is choosing workwear and uniforms from organic ranges and eco-conscious suppliers and brands. Let’s take a closer look at why businesses should make the switch to an environmentally friendly uniform. Environmental Issues in the Clothing Industry To paint a picture of the scope of the issues within the clothing industry as a whole, below are three of the biggest concerns within the industry: Water Usage Water wastage is one of, if not the biggest single environmental issue facing the clothing and textile industry. This industry is one of the largest consumers of water. This consumption is primarily due to cotton production. Cotton is a hugely water intensive crop with it being estimated that a single shirt can use up to 2,700 litres of water. This drive to produce cotton at a mass rate and unsustainable farming practices have ultimately caused irreversible damage. This water is often sourced from rivers, lakes, and aquifers, causing water shortages and environmental damage. An example of this is the Aral Sea in Central Asia, this was the world’s fourth largest lake. But due to an enormous irrigation network, primarily for cotton production, the lake is now tenth of its original size. Chemical Pollution Additionally the industry uses a wide range of chemicals in the production process, including dyes, bleaches, and finishing agents. Many of these chemicals are toxic and can have negative impacts on the environment, particularly when they are released into waterways. Waste The clothing and uniform industry produces a significant amount of waste, with an estimated 92 million tons of textile waste generated each year. Much of this waste ends up in landfills, taking years to decompose. Fast fashion is a significant contributor to this driving the demand for excessive production. This often never reaches its end point due to overproduction and ultimately is just wasted. Do Businesses Choose Environmentally Friendly Uniforms? We carried out a survey of 1,000 people with the aim of understanding business owners perceptions of purchasing from clothing brands who are eco friendly. Key findings from the survey include: The survey indicates that the majority of respondents are more likely to purchase from eco-friendly brands. The survey also discovered that those aged 16-24 were more likely to boycott a brand if it didn’t match their ideas around ethical practices. 74% of those surveyed said that it would influence their decision of who to buy from. Brands may not believe consumers care all that much about where their purchases come from but the survey has highlighted that more and more of us are now researching a brand’s ethical and eco policies before buying from them. The survey looked into why people are now moving towards this trend. Were they really concerned about the environment, was there an influence from friends or family or is it simply a case of feeling obliged to do so. We know that having a truly ethical product costs a little more – as you need to find an alternative to an everyday, cheaper solution. But we asked consumers if they would be happy to cover the difference. However, interestingly it was noted that Nearly half (43.4%) of those surveyed believe brands are committed to their eco-friendly policies but that they also use them to look good. Why Choose Environmentally Friendly Workwear Brands? With these environmental issues in mind, businesses should consider making the switch to environmentally friendly workwear brands. Here are some reasons why: Reduced Environmental Impact Choosing items for your uniform which use organic materials, are grown without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. This reduces the environmental impact of farming and production and helps to reduce pollution and waste. Positive Brand Image Making the switch to eco-friendly workwear can help to improve your brand’s image and reputation. Consumers are increasingly demanding sustainable products, and making the switch can help you attract and retain customers. Choosing Products from Organic Ranges Choosing uniform from organic ranges is a great first step in making the change to an eco-conscious uniform. Organic cotton is grown with low impact on the environment. This is because the cotton is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilisers which can cause damage to the environment. By choosing organic you are helping, the environment as well as the farmers growing the cotton and the surrounding wildlife. We would recommend brands such as Anthem and Stanley/Stella for sustainable organic uniforms. Both brands primary focus is on creating high quality organic products, which is perfect for rebranding. Our Printing Process We know the huge detrimental impact the production of cotton for clothing has on the environment. But water wastage is also a big concern for the garment printing sector. You may choose to have your logo or design added to your uniform via a print application. However, traditional screen printing methods waste a lot of water. To be precise, approximately 50-60 litres of water is per metre of print. This adds wastage accumulates over time as there is an extensive washing process that needs to happen before each new design is printed. This water is then polluted due to the chemicals which are used within the ink. But, at Clothes2order we have pioneered the use of Greenprinted™ technology. This processes of printing uses 95% less water than traditional screen printing. This means that our process is incredibly more water efficient. Within a year of use, instead of screen printing, this can save approximately 1.4 million litres of water. The inks used are non-hazardous, vegan friendly and even 100% biodegradable.They are also non-toxic with absolutely no use of any heavy metals which can damage water. Choosing a printed uniform with Clothes2order is an ideal way to make a positive impact.