Sustainability is in fashion. Finally.
40% of Americans say buying/using eco-friendly products is an important part of their personal image (Shelton Eco Pulse 2017).
Consumers who choose sustainable options in other product categories have been slow to apply their conscience to fashion. Style, fit and price have continued to drive their purchase decisions. But this year, something has changed. According to a recent Forbes article, sustainable fashion is trending. Keyword searches on sustainability and fashion jumped 47% from 2017 to 2018, and the trend is expected to continue in 2019. The article also reports that “several brands with a strong stance on sustainability made the ‘most searched for’ roundups for the first time.”
Much goes into the making of sustainable fashion products. To get to the point that sustainability could ever be considered fashionable has required a lot of hard work at all stages of the supply chain. Sustainability is crucial not just in the final consumer product but at all steps and stages in between. So, we’d like to give credit to organizations that have really been a driving force for improving sustainability in fashion. Their efforts have put this issue in the spotlight and now this search trend shows it’s reached consumers.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has been a leader in bringing the circular economy into the fashion industry. Through the “Make Fashion Circular” project, they’ve joined forces with a plethora of brands to address a three-pronged vision: “business models that keep clothes in use; materials that are renewable and safe; solutions that turn used clothes into new clothes.”
Eileen Fisher, the fashion brand, is another key example of sustainability in fashion. As Forbes declares, “Eileen Fisher is arguably the leader in sustainable fashion” with “a range of unfussy, Japanese-inspired wares” that buck trends, “stand the test of time” and have a lighter impact on the environment. The brand “buys back discarded garments from consumers for five dollars a pop, as part of its Renew initiative…[and] either resells them at reduced prices or creates new designs out of them.”
Other organizations and programs ensure sustainability is a part of not only the final product (clothing and textiles) but also the growing and harvesting of raw materials. The Cotton LEADS program, for example, connects companies across the textile supply chain with sustainably grown cotton from the United States and Australia. They help member companies figure out how to source sustainably – and how to talk about their efforts with their consumers.
The massive $867 billion Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 – otherwise known as the “Farm Bill” – just went up for a final vote in Congress and has passed. A few stipulations in the bill directly pertain to sustainability, and you can read about them here in this article. The bill includes $25 million in annual funding for the USDA to develop and test municipal compost and food waste reduction plans – and to work toward diverting food waste from landfills. “Groups such as ReFED and the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic have been advocating for food waste prevention provisions for years,” the article states; now, it seems, those efforts have finally paid off.
According to Forbes, midwestern states and rural areas of the U.S. are “fully accepting” recent scientific findings on climate change despite pushback from the Trump administration. In particular, renewable energy projects such as solar and wind energy are increasing in those areas – and coal power generation is being phased out. This finding is significant to utilities especially; it indicates that even in areas that have traditionally been skeptical of sustainability, renewable energy is on the rise.