Sustainability, fashions commitment, and responsibility – Part II

(Part II), Part I can be found here, Sustainability, basics, education, and the journey – Part One

The Fashion Industry

So what does the information in the previous article have to do with fashion?

  • 11% of the animals in the world today are used for textiles.
  • In 2018 the fashion industry produced over 107 metric tons of polyester and cotton
    • Polyester uses double the energy of conventional cotton
    • it can take about 10,000 liters (2,683 gallons) of water to produce one kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton fabric
    • Conventionally grown cotton used more than 17.2 million kilograms (38 million pounds) or $3.3 billion worth of pesticides in 2014
  • Production of raw materials uses energy, water, toxic chemicals and increasing levels of textile waste

When considering the use of products, the fashion industry needs to consider the environment:

  • Climate Change
  • Biodiversity Loss
  • Soil Degradation
  • Water Scarcity
  • Chemical Use
  • Deforestation

G7 Fashion Pact

French President Emmanuel Macron created the G7 Fashion Pact and to date, 32 companies with over 150 brands have joined.

The G7 Fashion Pact is a set of shared objectives the fashion industry can work toward to reduce its environmental impact.

Kering chair and CEO François-Henri Pinault revealed he’d been selected by Macron to establish those objectives and assemble a “coalition” of brands at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit.

Pinault highlighted: “Despite what we’re doing [to reduce our impact alone], things are not moving. We really need to define targets together. The first stage is to choose three or four objectives that are a top priority for the industry and commit to working towards them together to find solutions. I’m [confident] we will reach a level that none of us individually could reach by working alone.”

The Pact revolves around science-based targets in three areas:

  1. Global warming (the objective being to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 in order to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius until 2100)
  2. Restoring biodiversity (with a focus on restoring natural ecosystems and protecting species)
  3. Preserving the oceans (namely by reducing the use of single-use plastics).

He stressed the need for collaboration over competition and sharing resources rather than focusing on exclusives and secrecy.

The objective is to have more than 20% of the global fashion industry (measured by the volume of products) working together to achieve the systemic change that is necessary.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

How do you establish your SDG’s, start with the basics: establish definite timelines for each part of the process.  Determine where to begin and where to begin in your particular business.  Then define your ultimate goals within an established time frame.

The UN has established 17 SDG guidelines from 1) End Poverty in All Forms Everywhere up to 17) Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development. These can be used as a guideline and inspiration for your own.

Build a portfolio, which addresses the unsustainable options.  Commit to integrity and continuous improvement; avoid trying to make one size that fits all problems.  It is important to develop a materials strategy.

It is really important for companies today to focus on raw materials, it is recommended to use circular over linear approaches.  Discovering what are the challenges within the fiber and exploring the lifecycle of those fibers.

For fibers, you can look at specific standards and certifications such as Organic, Fair Trade, and Recycled.   You can also utilize resources such as the Textile Exchange or the Cotton up Guide.

Exploring fibers

  • Organic Cotton

No Toxic chemicals are used in growing Organic Cotton. It doesn’t damage the soil, has less impact on the air, and uses 88% less water and 62% less energy.

Conventional cotton uses about 16% of the world’s insecticides and 7% of pesticides.

  • Polyester

It is derived from fossil fuels, which contribute to climate change.  It is not biodegradable and it is harmful to air quality.

Our options are to seek out Bio-based or Recycled Polyesters.

  • Biosyntheitics

A replacement made from renewable rather than fossil fuel-based feedstocks.

Some products made from biobased (or part biobased) feedstocks including Sorona® (bioPTT) from Dupont, EVO® (bio PA) from Fulgar, biopolyester (based on bio PX produced by Virent), manmade spider silk from Bolt Thread and more.

  • Manmade Cellulosic Fibers

These are mainly derived from wood, which includes, but are not limited to LuocellModel, and Viscose.

Some of the challenges are Forestation and Water pollution.

  • Wool/Down

Always be cognizant ofAnimal welfare.   Improving Industrial farming and always being aware of land degradation.

Standards such as the Responsible Down Standard, Downpass and the Global Traceable Down Standard are gaining importance.

Responsible Wool Standard is to provide the industry with a tool to recognize the best practices of farmers; ensuring that wool comes from farms with a progressive approach to managing their land, and from sheep that have been treated responsibly.

You need to be benchmarking what you are doing.


Understanding the importance of traceability

Transparency is ultimately important.  Investigate regional risks, integrity, and impact monitoring. Look into SDG12 and learn how to implement it into your future sustainability strategies.

SDG12 is about responsible consumption and production:  Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste; supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030.

Explore the outputs (inputs), outcomes and impact in terms of changes in the delivery of goods and services to long-term, sustainable changes in people’s lives.

Inputs are used in order to carry out activities. Activities lead to services or products delivered (outputs). The outputs start to bring about change (outcomes) and eventually this will (hopefully) contribute to the impact.

The sustainable, environmental key messages with traceability built into the company strategy are:


How to Start your Sustainability Development Goals (SDG’s)

Establish your company’s values with integrity and develop common goals that everyone is working towards.

Research your fibers; know your suppliers; make sure they have the proper certification.

Transparency starts with relationships.

  • Work with your existing supply chain
    • Remember you are not the only customer who will be asking for this
  • Seek out the validity of the infrastructure that is already built

How to keep your priorities in the right place

  • Pick one thing and do it really well (start small, don’t get overwhelmed)
  • Know what your brand stands for? Some examples are: Stands for people, Stands for water, Stands for Air, you can continue to build off this
  • Find a partner (even your competition)
    • We are all in this together


Everyone needs to consider the costs and business considerations in order to become sustainable.  It is recommended to start by establishing (SDG’s) Sustainability Development Goals with timelines.

The industry, company, and individual must al have transparency.   This is derived from unique conversations, utilizing a new language, and a new level of trust.

In the end, you get back what you put in; what goes in is what comes out.

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About the Author: Jeffrey Clark

A management professional with 25 years of global experience working with fortune 500 and specialty brands, specializing in lean manufacturing, product, supply chain management, procurement, sourcing, and operations. Proven proactive leadership, vision, creativity, and successful strategic business skills to drive revenue and profit growth in highly competitive domestic and global markets. A strong relationship builder functions effectively as an integral member of a cohesive senior executive team. Proven ability to source, identify and capitalize on emerging trends and niche market opportunities.