Fashioning a sustainable future
The fashion industry used COP26 to supercharge its commitment to net zero. The sector took centre stage in the fight against climate change by pledging to halve its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and support growth through balancing the needs of people, planet, and profit. As we move forward into 2022, the onus is on businesses across the fashion supply chain to build resilience by putting sustainability at the heart of their operation.
In November 2021, the fashion industry embarked on the next stage of its journey to Net Zero 2050. More than 170 signatures of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action committed to cut emissions by 50% over the next decade rather than the 30% reduction announced in 2018. In addition, the mission statement outlined further intent to source all electricity from renewable sources by 2030, phase out coal from supply chains by 2030, and scale up the use of sustainable materials.
Major brands including Burberry and Nike signed up to bring the sector in line with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The decarbonisation pathway involves identifying best practice and promoting collaboration to support sustainable working practices.
According to the UN, the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. The sector is in an ideal position to support the fight against climate change and a growing number of organisations, from high-end fashion houses to small-scale suppliers, are embracing opportunity to take the lead in securing a more sustainable future. Using science-based targets to reduce environmental impact their work is focused on three key areas:
- Sustainable materials – Much of fashion’s emissions result from textile production. Producing fossil fuel-based synthetic fibres is energy intensive. Even growing cotton has environmental implications due to harmful gases released through fertiliser use. The race is on to integrate alternative more sustainable materials including increasing the use of organic cotton and recycled polyester.
- Energy – From switching to LED lighting to generating their own renewable electricity, fashion businesses can use energy efficiency to slash their carbon footprint and reduce their utility bills. For even greater gains for planet and profit, this can be extended to cutting transport emissions by switching transport modes or going electric.
- Circular solutions – Breaking the fast fashion linear model of make, use and discard is key to building a more sustainable sector. There are exciting opportunities to design for longevity, offer repair services, recycle materials, collect for reuse, and introduce rental schemes.
Reaping the rewards
Help shape sustainable fashion and drive sector growth within our planetary boundaries. Committing to net zero not only meets environmental obligations but builds resilience, manages risk, reduces costs, opens new revenue streams, and helps future proof your business. Sustainable practices harness innovation, tap into consumer sentiment and provide a competitive edge.
At Wylde Connections we support companies, including fashion brands, on their sustainability journey, giving them the toolkit to transform their operations. Our unique blend of consultancy, learning and development and communications services are based on decades of experience.
Our online mini-course Introduction to Sustainability is designed to give staff the knowledge they need to get on board. In addition, our 6-week practical tutor-led programme, Sustainability Strategy: The Fundamentals to help you embrace a new way of working. Find out more about what sustainability can do for you.
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