Mending Our Ways

No 02

Mending Our Ways

The apparel industry—one of the filthiest on the planet—urgently needs a makeover.

The shirt on your back comes at a tragically high cost to the environment. One-fifth of the world’s industrial water pollution and 10 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the textile sector, which uses 20,000 chemicals—many of them carcinogenic—to make your clothes. But there’s nothing fashion loves more than a trend, and the hottest one coming down the runway could be sustainability. From a Vietnamese blue jeans factory to the London studio of superstar designer Stella McCartney, we stitch together the potential transformation of a trillion-dollar-a-year industry. 




Table of Contents

On the Runway

Stella McCartney has risen to the top of the fashion world by adding just one more element to her sexy, sophisticated designs: sustainability. Can this trendsetter get an entire industry to follow her lead?

Trying on Sustainability

The companies that make and sell most of the world’s clothing insist they want to operate without endangering workers, polluting waterways, or using toxic chemicals. But clean practices can be a hard sell.

Global apparel imports

Anywhere But Here

Made in America? When it comes to your clothes, almost never. Here’s where your wardrobe really comes from, by country of origin.

The Reformation

Cause Célèbre

An L.A.-based eco-fashion line counts A-listers among its biggest fans.

Do These Pants Make Me Look Sustainable?

A young woman's attempt to purchase a stylish, environmentally responsible outfit sent her through the looking glass—into a world where nobody can be 100 percent certain about anything.

NRDC Voices: The Carrot and the Stick

To reform the dirty apparel industry, we need to reward those who are making a sincere effort—and call out those who are not.