New York City hosted Fashion Week last week and Climate Week in the Big Apple on Monday. There’s an uncomfortable truth at these annual showcase crossroads. No one understands how to reliably align climate targets with fashion’s current business model.
Over the past few years, retailers have announced a number of sustainability measures. Nearly every company in the industry has plans or plans to change the way their products are made to be more environmentally friendly and extend the life of those products. These initiatives are intended to create a buzzword “circularity” and take into account fashion’s huge climate footprint: according to the United Nations, the industry will reduce its 2% of global carbon emissions to 8%.
But that’s where things get messy.As of now, there is little discussion of how many A product that a company should produce to meet its environmental goals. Instead, there are plenty of bold strategies to keep your business in expansion mode.
Elisa Niemtzow, Vice President, Consumer Sector and Global Memberships at sustainability consultancy BSR, said: “The notion of degrowth and alternative business models, or alternative models of growth, can be a term that makes people uncomfortable.”
Take H&M. The Swedish retailer has pledged to reduce emissions by 56% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, and from third-party nonprofit CDP he received a ‘B’ in his 2021 climate disclosures. won. This is in addition to H&M moving to reduce water and plastic use and rely on more recycled materials. , cannot quash investors’ expectations of beating fast-fashion competitors. Is it even possible to decouple climate targets from that kind of strategy?
Many scientists involved in BSR don’t seem to think so. “Scientists will generally say that decoupling is not really possible, or that it may be possible for emissions but not for resource utilization,” Niemtzow said. “It is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely.”
Some companies are trying. In the luxury space, Gucci has managed to boost sales while he cut emissions by 15% compared to his 2019 levels, according to the Business of Fashion. Alternative models on offer include limiting growth, focusing on fewer high-quality items, and narrowing inventory to climate-friendly options, but how these approaches scale over time. There is also a whole business of reselling everything from apparel to furniture and renting goods to avoid new production altogether.According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, reselling The rise of more cyclical businesses such as rentals, repairs and remakes could reduce the climate footprint of the fashion industry by about a third of what is needed to sustain the 1.5 degree Celsius target. .
“I think sustainability insiders in the fashion industry have been talking about elephants in the room of overproduction and overconsumption for the last few years,” Niemtsou said, adding that at least businesses are starting to get involved in the conversation. “We are still looking for the right model to guide us.”
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