Fashion is a $3 trillion industry that employs nearly 3.4 billion people worldwide. However, this massive industry is also responsible for bringing harm to the environment, contributing to the global water crisis, climate change, and air and water pollution.
According to the United Nations, the fashion industry produced 20% of global waste water and emitted 10% of global carbon dioxide in 2018, which is more than the combined emissions of maritime shipping and international flights. If left as is, the fashion industry can produce up to 26% of global carbon emissions by 2050.
It takes 700 gallons of water just to produce a single T-shirt, and the apparel industry uses up a total of 26.4 trillion gallons of water annually. Dangerous chemicals needed for the manufacture of textile end up polluting bodies of water.
What is worse is that 87% of the total fiber input for clothing is left unused in warehouses and considered waste to be disposed of at landfills and incinerators. The World Economic Forum states that “the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second,” and this amounts to about $288 billion every year.
Considering the economic and environmental price of fabric production, textile company “Queen of Raw” utilizes blockchain technology to create an online marketplace that will not only maximize its profits, but also help the fashion industry become more sustainable.
“It just didn’t make sense. Those companies were buying sustainable (leather) products from me while all the unused material sat in their warehouses. That was the biggest eye-opener for me,” said Queen of Raw founder Stephanie Benedetto, a former corporate lawyer at Wall Street who put up her own sustainable textile manufacturing company.
Queen of Raw’s mission is to keep unused or deadstock fabrics from going to waste by buying, recycling, reusing and selling them through its blockchain marketplace that creates an immutable record of inventory. This effectively eliminates the supply-demand gap that is one of the main reasons for the high percentage of fabric wastage.
“People relied on pen and paper in the past, so how to ensure data integrity? How do you know it’s waste (dead) stock in the first place? That’s where the blockchain comes in, which now stores an exhaustive record of the fate of each yard of fabric regardless of which warehouse or brand it belongs to,” Queen of Raw CTO Phil Dermaso, who also has a background in environmental engineering, explained.
“Technology-wise, the type of blockchain doesn’t matter much, but the business rules, design of the contract, and business applications are what matter more. We are using it for a particular purpose within the supply chain that makes sense for our community,” Dermaso added.
Its blockchain marketplace enables Queen of Raw to calculate the gallons of water, amount of carbon emissions, other toxic chemicals and dollars it saves for every yard of deadstock fabric it has brought back into circulation.
Queen of Raw has already saved a billion gallons of water; and this number is expected to rise exponentially as its more than 400,000 users composed of big luxury and retail brands, Fortune 500 companies, independent fashion designers, a variety or suppliers and buyers, are expected to grow as sustainable fabrics become more in demand in the future.
“It is best only when you can do it in an economically profitable way, and that is a big key of how and why we use blockchain. And this is the reason why we do what we do to make it an economic [and environmental] win for everybody,” Benedetto pointed out.