Sustainable fashion, eco fashion and responsible retail circular fashion are
all terms used to describe the industry’s efforts to combat, challenge and respond
to the issues created by consumer demand for fast fashion, the resulting throw away
culture and single use of fashion items.
The concept of sustainable fashion is that all businesses involved in the production
and sale of fashion products are considering and addressing the social and environmental
impacts throughout the entire process, from the field, to production, to end of
Sustainable and efficient use of natural resources, chemical use reduction, good
labour practises, sustainable sources and sustainable end of life routes are all
factors which need to be implemented for fashion products to be deemed sustainable.
Consumer awareness and demand
Fashion is a large and ever-growing industry, which means the way in which fashion
items are made and disposed of has a huge impact on both the environment and society.
“It is also a fast-growing industry. Work by industry consortium, Global
Fashion Agenda, and Boston Consulting Group predicts a rise of 63% in overall
fashion consumption between 2017 and 2030, with increasing demand from developing
countries leading us swiftly towards a point where over 100 million tonnes of
apparel and footwear will be purchased each year.”
Due to the growth of the Internet and the prevalence of mobile devices, consumers
now have immediate access to a wealth of information. As a result, there is greater
awareness of how clothing is made and how fashion at end of life can be polluting
and wasteful, such as shoes ending up as ocean plastics and microfibres making their
way into the ecosystem.
This growth in awareness is influencing consumers’ choices based on how products
are made and from which materials.
As a result, the fashion industry is instigating swift and positive change, particularly
regarding the prevalence of single-use items.
What are companies doing?
A greater consumer awareness is driving the fashion industry to recognise the
importance of environmentally friendly and ethically conscious products. We are
seeing brands begin to align with this agenda as the hot topic of sustainability
gains momentum; several campaigns have emerged, such as “Make Fashion Circular”
by the Circular Fibres Initiative.
Many fashion brands are already taking steps to create a more sustainable industry,
Some companies are starting to upcycle, such as Adidas who are using ocean plastics
to make footwear to try and tackle end of life issues and remove plastics from our
Take back schemes
Several other major brand names such as H&M, Primark and M&S are offering take
back schemes for clothing recycling, which aim to tackle our throwaway culture.
Some are looking at the materials within their fashion items and are moving towards
those with a lower impact on the environment, such as hemp, bamboo or eucalyptus,
which uses a fifth of the land that would be needed for a cotton plantation.
Others are committing to recycled content and organic wool / cotton ranges.
Sustainability extends to the delivery of products and its associated packaging.
The optimisation of transporting products between sites and to consumers, as well
as the packaging around products, also needs to be considered.
Because of press surrounding plastic bags and ocean plastics, we are seeing an
increase in eco-friendly, environmental packaging. Fashion retailers now realise
that they have a part to play to reduce the amount of plastic packaging around their
products. For example, fast fashion giant Zara now delivers online orders in 100%
recycled cardboard boxes made from boxes previously used in stores. The outer bag
that protects the boxes is made from 55% recycled plastic.
Also ASOS, which sources more than 40 million plastic mailing bags and 5 million
cardboard boxes each year for its orders, has introduced a range of packaging initiatives
- such as using bags made from 25% recycled content and fitting more parcels on
delivery vehicles at a time.
The “Valpak Insight Platform” is a web-based data-management tool designed to
provide you with the visibility and transparency you need to work towards your environmental
objectives. Its multi-tiered design provides complete flexibility in identifying
information such as how much recyclable or recycled content is in your packaging,
tracking usage of different plastic polymers, and aggregating a wide range of statistical
analysis to give you complete confidence in identifying and targeting areas for
improvement. Visit our
Data Management Portals web page for further details or speak to us
today to find out more.
Join our webinar or be a speaker
On 28 March 2019, we will be hosting a webinar “Let's talk sustainable
fashion”. If your company is making strides in this area and you would
like to provide a case study or be a speaker, we would love to hear from you. Please
firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in taking part.