What are the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?
The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed in 2015 and aim to be achieved by 2023. There are 17 SDGs which are all a call for action to help both developed and developing countries move towards a more sustainable future. These goals include ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, increasing economic growth, and helping to tackle climate change and improve life on land and in our oceans.
What is the circular economy?
Companies should take more of a circular approach which could be useful for brands learning how to be more sustainable. The model looks at different aspects such as the design, manufacturing, the retailer, the consumer, reusing, repairing, and recycling. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines the circular economy as:
"The circular economy tackles climate change and other global challenges like biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution, by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources."
Brands need to ask themselves if they can implement strategies into their business to apply the model and improve their contribution to the environment.
What do current fashion brands do to be more sustainable?
ASOS are currently moving towards becoming more sustainable, they are constantly reviewing their products, practices, materials and methods to find ways to reduce the impact they have on the planet. ASOS works with two organisations to help quantify their environmental impact. They have been using Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) which assesses the UK clothing production across its lifecycle and doing this it helps them to figure out how to become less wasteful and reduce carbon and water footprints. In addition, they also work with Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) which they have been using since 2016. They measure the environmental impact across the supply chain, and this looks for ways for ASOS to work on their carbon emission and improve on their carbon impact.
ASOS Marketplace launched in 2010 and has over 900 small businesses and independent brands from over 50 countries being able to reach people globally. These partnerships help people to connect and exchange their products and help smaller independent businesses grow.
Pretty Little Thing (PLT) has created goals to ensure that they are doing what they can for the planet. PLT Marketplace was introduced last year, it allows customers to resell, re-wear and then recycle their clothes in the hope to encourage more people to join the movement and reduce the amount of waste and clothing that ends up in landfill, this looks at the move towards circularity within the fashion industry and understanding how to be more sustainable within consumption.
They have been working with CottonConnect to train 2,500 cotton farmers in Pakistan to integrate more sustainable cotton production techniques. REEL cotton products stand for; responsible, environment, and enhanced livelihood. These items are good for both the environment and the farmers too as the farmers see a 36% increase in profits and an 11% boost in their cotton yield. This partnership between PLT and CottonConnect has helped farmers with their yields and also helped with the production of clothing to become more sustainable and ethically sourced.
Tips to Become a More Sustainable Consumer
As consumers, it is important that we too are conscious of the clothes we are buying, where they come from, how they are made, and what we do after we have finished with them.
It is encouraged:
To shop from brands that are sustainable and ethical
Buy high-quality items that will last and less often
Buy clothes second hand
To donate, resell or recycle unwanted clothes
To make others aware and more conscious of their buying habits
"75% of consumers believe that sustainability is important and one-third are willing to choose brands that help environmental and social improvement"
Overall, many fashion brands are making their way towards being more sustainable in their practices and are taking a more circular approach. Sustainability within fashion shouldn't just stop there but be extended to the product's lifecycle with the consumer and after whether the item is either reused, recycled or donated to help us as individuals contribute to having a positive environmental impact.