With all bushfires and crazy heat we experience this summer in Australia, I started to think more about the environment (hope you do as well). As a part of fashion industry that has huge negative impact on climate being the second largest polluting industry with roughly 10% of global carbon emission, I started to think more about possible ways of sustainability for my business. Nowadays you can actually find heaps of information regarding this online (check Coursera, NHH Norweigan school of Economics has amazing video course as well), so I started digging into this topic and found couple of interesting facts.
Swapping “sustainability” for “responsibility”, as Vanessa Friedman suggested at this year’s Copenhagen Fashion Summit, is a good start!
Sustainability is strongly related to 3 P – People, Planet and Profit. Unfortunately, most brands are focusing more on profit than on other Ps. So, what about People? And Planet?
If you go shopping almost all garmets you can see are made in Southeast Asia. Can you actually believe, that it happened only in the last 30 years? Before all garments were produced locally, but with the development of more efficient transportation and a possibility to communicate worldwide easily, fashion industry became a globalized interconnected network with raw materials sourced in one part of the world to be spun in another and sold as a garment in third. It allows big brands to create maximum profit with a minimum cost of production, without really thinking about social responsibility.
Still due to lack of transparency heaps of garments we buy are actually produced in a non-ethical way – on factories with bad work conditions, where kids labor and very low wages are common.
Using a linear business model, many fashion brands work on the “take-make-dispose” basis wasting resources, and to be sustainable, fashion business has to change to the circular type of business model based on reuse, resource efficiency, sharing economy – it will help to reduce pollution and provide resource depletion.
What does it mean the circular economy?
The circular economy tries to decouple economic growth from the depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation. Ideally, in a circular economy, there is no waste!
It tries to do so by creating a system that reduces, reuses and recycles materials in production, distributions, and consumption processes.
There are two different types of resource efficiency loops that are specific for the circular economy. The first loop is a product-specific loop that focuses on keeping product life as long as possible by using quality production and materials + repair of garments.
Second loop is more material-specific - it focuses on material recycling, pointing attention to creating additional value to recycled materials (creating high-quality fabric from recycled plastic bottles) instead of downcycling it (producing lower quality material) and landfilling it!
Oh, it’s still so much things to read about, but I found this topic extremely interesting, so I will try to make changes to my small ethical business towards circularity!