Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. // Vivienne Westwood //
“Fast fashion isn’t free. Someone, somewhere, is paying.”
// Lucy Siegle //
The fashion industry has undeniably been one of the key contributors to social and environmental sustainability problems. In particular, environmental impacts include the use of electricity and the development and use of greenhouse gas emissions, the use of water, contamination, hazardous waste, and effluent associated with the pre-treatment, dyeing, and finishing stages of production. Simultaneously, precarious working conditions, including sweatshops and child labor, low salaries and long hours, workers’ rights, health and safety threats, and animal welfare are the social implications. On top of everything, the ever-increasing amount of clothing consumption exacerbates all the consequences.
The sustainability impacts of each stage of the fashion supply have been addressed by scholars, the media, and the public alike. The Natural Resource Defense Council has concluded that textile manufacturing is one of the most polluting sectors in the world when it comes to manufacturing processes. This is due to the manufacture of cotton and synthetic fibres as well as the traditional manufacturing back-end, which is marked by outdated methods of manufacture used in fabric dyeing and finishing. Looking at the demand side of the fashion industry, there has been comparatively little exposure to the social and environmental effects of fashion consumption. The example of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh (1,100 dead workers) serves as a tragic reminder of the poor working conditions among fashion suppliers in developing countries when it comes to social issues.
“Once people become knowledgeable and passionate about ecological issues and see how their day-to-day actions impact the future, they don’t go back.”
The phases of fashion use are pre-purchase, purchase, use, repair, and clothing disposal. The perspective of UK consumers on sustainable clothing consumption reveals that customers feel that the major clothing-related sustainability concerns are at the stage of development. Surprisingly, according to science, the single element of clothing use that has the greatest effect on society is laundering, which is part of the usage process, which in some cases is responsible for up to 82 percent of energy use over the life cycle of a piece of clothing. Last but not least, another main sustainability problem is the recycling of clothes.
Fashion is not the only industry that deals with social and environmental concerns, but the problems are primarily based on the sector’s characteristics. In understanding how corporate social responsibility (CSR) is applied in various industries, supply chain power, credibility, duration, and diffusion are all key factors.
The Borw Team