Fashion industry responsible for 10% of global annual carbon emissions

fashion industry

In a world before Covid, the fashion industry was responsible for producing 10% of annual global carbon emissions.

This is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

Have you ever stopped to think about the environmental impact your clothes have had?

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, it takes an average of 3,781 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans, from the production of the cotton to the delivery of the finished item to the store.

This process equates to around 33.4 kilogrammes of carbon emitted into the atmosphere.

If the fashion industry continues to drive at this pace,  greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50% by 2030, according to the Worldbank.

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted luxury and high street fashion trade significantly.

It has exposed many fashion retail businesses to various vulnerabilities, as well as providing them with an opportunity to re-evaluate their commercial, ethical and environmental values.

And it’s not just priorities across the industry that have changed: consumers are responding in a way that indicates shopping habits and behaviours are more aligned to a sustainable and socially conscious way of life than ever before.

There has been a rise in conscious consumption enabled by new consumers who want to drive social change and make the planet more sustainable.

A study states that 49% of consumers under the age of 24 had avoided certain products or services due to the negative environmental impact, and a further 81% of consumers say that it is the responsibility of companies to help improve the environment.

In particular, millennials and generation Z shoppers are driving this trend: a staggering 73% of millennials will spend more money on a product if comes from a sustainable or socially conscious company.

These two demographics represent a huge chunk of the global consumer community, accounting for 85% of global luxury sales growth. (PDF)

Therefore learning how to engage with these consumers is vital.

The expectation from these consumers is that brands should align to their personal values, which have a direct link with their shopping behaviours.

Those that don’t are heavily penalised.

Only a few months ago, fast fashion label Boohoo dominated headlines with accusations of modern slavery for paying its garment workers as little as £3.50 an hour.

Retailers Next and Asos were the first of many to stop selling Boohoo items on their platforms.

In light of these allegations, Boohoo’s executive chairman has promised to rectify these failings across the business.

To avoid the fate of Boohoo and remain relevant to the consumer, fashion retailers and luxury fashion houses must take steps towards enforcing sustainable and ethical practices.

So what can we learn from brands that are doing this well? Continue reading

  • Alexandra Swabe is a senior marketing consultant
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