Sustainability and ethics in fast fashion

Last week, a few members of the team headed to ASBCI’s latest conference to brush up on our sustainability and ethics know-how, and to apply our learnings to our day-to-day operations.

As the UK Government conducts its first-ever full-scale enquiry into the environmental and social impact of fast fashion, we set out to learn from industry experts on how the sector is tackling this important issue.

 

Throughout the day, we heard from industry titans, including Phil Townsend from Marks & Spencer and Vanessa Wakefield from Recyclatex Group, about how they’re taking on the biggest talking point in our sector – sustainability and ethics. Here, we’ve summarised some of the key takeaways from the day.

 

Closed loop fashion cycles

More and more fashion brands are being encouraged to move away from linear models (using raw materials to create products) and onto closed-loop models (using recycled materials to create products) and reducing waste by recycling, reusing and repairing garments where possible.

 

Employee initiatives

In order to promote an ethical workplace, companies should be making an effort to ensure workers are offered initiatives to improve their skills, knowledge and wellbeing. Shop Direct, for example, offer women in their factories an opportunity to take leadership skills classes. They also ensure women’s families are supported financially and that each worker and their families have a good quality of life.

 

Better Cotton Initiative

 M&S, along with a host of other retailers, have gotten involved the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), to make their cotton farms more sustainable. This involves replacing harmful pesticides with insect repellent that isn’t harmful to insects. Additionally, the farms that supply M&S have reduced their water usage by 30% in more than 20 countries.

 

An industry working together

One common theme we noticed throughout the day, and a point that every speaker made, was that it is the duty of each and every company to take ownership of their individual responsibility to make ethical and sustainable changes, and we couldn’t agree more. Together, the sector can work in collaboration to a more sustainable future.

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