As global industries started realising the need for sustainability in the last decade, companies across the globe began emphasising more on how to define sustainability the right way. Does it mean low emission? Is there a need to ban plastic packaging to be called sustainable? Or, just the solar powered warehousing will ensure a better contribution?
Using sustainability as a metric generally means an expansion of the traditional business reporting framework to take into account social and environmental performance in addition to economic performance (the Triple Bottom Line). These three key principles should be measured, but they do not, by themselves, provide a measurement system. Therefore, many organisations are developing organisation-specific or industry-specific measurement tools and best practices to help them achieve the appropriate balance across social, environmental and economic principles.
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With the population of the world set to touch over 9 billion by the next decade, industries struggle to cater to shoppers’ needs and cope up with environmental stress at the same time. According to a research by HEC Paris, millennials are showing more concern about what impact their decisions make on environment, at the same time, they do not prefer to buy sustainable or ‘green’ fashion, known as the sustainability paradox. As a result, designers, manufacturers and retailers are seeking better strategies and business practices to increase transparency and sustainability standards.
Since the launch of her fashion house in the year 2021, Stella McCartney has been a pioneer in environmental sensibility of designs, ethical sourcing and recycling. The designs include collections with organic cotton, ethical wool and no leather or fur. Recently, the designer house presented collections based on her initiative titled ‘There She Grows’, aimed at protecting vulnerable rainforests.
The basic principles on which Stella McCartney measures sustainable index are as follows:
Ethical Sourcing: Its designer collections showcase respect for nature by sourcing most of the raw materials sustainably. For instance, the cotton used is as per the GOTS standard for organic content. Also, the source of viscose fibre is renewable and traceable.
Ethical Manpower Involvement: Production at Stella McCartney ensures that farmers who grow crops are left with a good impact and involvement in the supply chain.
Circularity: The brand Stella McCartney incorporates restorative and regenerative method of production and disposal of the waste.
Research says that approximately 88 per cent customers want the fashion brands to become more environmentally sensible. Originating from Budapest, Hungary, Nanushka is a sustainable brand which started the use of vegan leather in its bags, footwear and dresses, now extending to upcycled materials and shirting material for both women and men. The designs are simple, sleek and natural. Made from 100 per cent recycled trash plastic bottles and waste materials, Rothy’s is a sustainable apparel brand which aims to contribute to no-emission fashion.
Another interesting fashion label is TenTree which living up to its name, plants at least 10 trees to every garment produced. “We believe that planting trees is one of the most important environmental missions today. It provides jobs, protects eco-systems and wildlife, sequesters carbon and more,” says Derrick Emsley, CEO of TennTree. The brand also provides a unique code to its customers with which they can track the health and growth of their trees, and aims to plant 1 billion trees by 2030. The raw materials are sourced considering environmental ethics including recycled polyester, coconut and cork remains.
Armour Vert, an apparel brand that makes sustainably procured products in much smaller batches, aims to demote wastage created by unsold garments. In a unique collaboration with fabric mills, Armour Vert tracks the chemicals being used in dyeing and processing to ensure zero toxin indulgence. Not just that, the brand plants one tree for each sold garment, with recycling and reusing solutions.
Developed by Jeanologia, Environmental Impact Measurement (EIM) software is the first and only software in the market that can measure the precise environmental impact of a garment finishing industry. Designed with care, this tool is highly user-friendly and assists brands in achieving their business goals on the roadmap to sustainability. The environmental impact software calculates liquid effluent, chemical and energy usage, as well as overall workers’ lifestyle, affected by the production units and the extent to which they add to the ecological footprint. In that way, by examining the present impact, the tool makes it easier to identify zones of improvement, definite actions, and ways to monitor them to become more sustainable.
“If there is no measurement, there is no improvement!” says the tagline of EIM. The tool is a powerful self-accreditation, especially for brands and laundries. With the introduction of EMI software, a common standard for sustainability has been marked in the textile industry.
Thus, fashion industry, known for creating and promoting trends, sure knows the importance of promoting the latest trend, that’s sustainability! Currently, apparel manufacturing factories continue to pollute 20 per cent of water resources, and are estimated to produce nearly 26 per cent of total carbon footprint by 2050, if left unchecked.
Although still fashion industry is seen as a culprit for more than 10 per cent carbon emissions generated (which makes more than emissions released by maritime shipment and international airlines taken together), there have been new brands which constantly thrive to reduce emissions, plant trees and promote sustainable business practices. The dimensions of sustainability are measured according to international standards of manufacturing, and a company needs to define its policies taking the three pillars of sustainability namely Society, Economy and Environment equally into consideration.