Sustainability is inevitable. In order to ensure the longevity of our planet, we must strive for sustainable practices and eventually towards a stage where everything that we do is sustainable. However, this is will take time, something that will involve a series of failures and successes. However, the most important thing is to start and move towards the direction of sustainability.
Here are the 6 key factors and actions that we can take developed by Simone Cipriani, the head and founder of the International Trade Centre’s Ethical Fashion Institute:
- Laws and Regulation: labour and environmental protection laws are the main and most effective measure to stop exploitation if adopted and enforced, and this also applies to the developing world. International cooperation and aid organisations should coordinate their work to implement this form of legislation. It is a challenge, but when it works this is a powerful agent of change. Sadly, standards and exceptions have done almost nothing to stop bad practices: only the force of law can do this effectively.
- Advocacy Groups:Exposure of bad practices and boycott campaigns can discourage bad behaviour and reward those who disclose transparent supply chains and good practices. Consumers and other stakeholders from the fashion industry should work hand in hand to strengthen such initiatives that bring more transparency into the supply chain.
- Qualitative Audits:as opposed to the usual CSR inspections. Such audits, also called impact assessments, concentrate on the impact of work and working conditions on people. It is a structured process of social research assessing the living conditions of people and the impact of their wages and work. The Rana Plaza factory had passed a CSR audit, yet an impact assessment on workers and their communities would have disclosed a different reality (of misery and deprivation) that could have alerted the auditors.
- Maps:requesting retailers and brands to map their supply chains, including all tiers, and making this public. Without mapping, no accountability is possible.
- Consumers:In many parts of the developing world, consumers are not aware or concerned by issues of responsible fashion, especially compared to the young but growing ethically & sustainably aware consumer movement in developed countries. As an indicator, check where fast fashion retailers are opening new shops and ask yourself why. News of store openings in Africa reflects the growth of a new middle class with money to spend.
- Staff in Fashion Companies:The future of employment in fashion will see the rise of human resources that can manage sustainability and its issues. The days in which this area of work was confined to the CSR department are going to be over. Fashion schools and universities have to prepare students for this.