Nowadays, the word “sustainability” has become the talk of the town. In fact, as climate change awareness has been on the rise, the topic has been acquiring global attention and now carries political implications. From local governments to the United Nations, the consensus is that our planet is at a very high risk. Indeed, this situation has been causing important changes in several industries, amongst the many are the textile, manufacturing and fashion sectors. These industries are actually as responsible as other highly polluting sectors and play an important role in our daily existence.
But what is sustainability? It depends upon whom you ask. The UN states that sustainability represents a development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. I would personally define it as a system in which the human activity develops itself at a local scale while it does not interfere in the recreation of the natural environment.
For the last few years, sustainability meant focusing only on environmental issues where firms were forced to be “sustainable” in order to have a good corporate image worldwide. Indeed, all major companies have been hard-pressed to improve their methods of production in order to reduce the environmental impact of the products they supply. The food industry for instance underwent changes when major players in the market launched projects to tackle increasing amounts of waste that they generated each year.
The Fashion industry however has been the frontrunner in creating a movement towards genuine change by championing social and humanitarian concerns. These changes however did not come automatically; the issue of exploitation in the clothing industry became a prominent issue, which is still far from being rectified today. Ethical fashion represents an approach to the design, sourcing and manufacturing of clothing, which maximizes benefits to people and communities while minimizing impact on the environment. If we are to focus on the fashion industry, there is a growing movement towards responsible and sustainable disciplines. The goal of which is to create a system that can be supported indefinitely in terms of both environment and social responsibility and that still maintains the current business models. Eco fashion however does not come without its challenges, in an industry solely based on image; the ethical issues are often overlooked in order to produce the trendiest and most fashionable products.