Will you buy a dress knowing that it is environmentally friendly or socially responsible? Will you buy a product if some of its proceeds are used to support a less privileged? I want to believe the response will be in the affirmative.
There has been a growing interest in sustainability issues within the fashion industry globally even though very little is being discussed and advocated for here in Ghana. Also, with a lot of waste in our system, it will do us a great service as a society to be more sustainable environmentally, ethically and socially.
Today, most people will agree that our modern society has to develop in a more sustainable way. This includes how we produce and consume clothing, shoes, accessories and other textiles. It also means encouraging the reuse and recycling activities to improve sustainability at all levels.
More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components. (Green Strategy, June 2014).
The main responsibility of fashion companies is obviously to change their production, distribution and marketing practices and strategies towards greater sustainability. From a socio-economic perspective, it requires that all stakeholders should work to improve the working conditions of their workers on the field at the factories and it the who supply chain from the factory to the consumer while encouraging good ethics and best practices.
Just recently, Emirates introduced sustainable blankets made from 100percent recycled plastic bottles. These soft and warm blankets were made using the latest innovation ecoTHREAD patented technology. Currently available on the Economy Class on all long-haul Emirates flights, the blanket is recycled using 28 recycled bottles which are recycled into chips before being turned int yarn, creating a polar fleece material.
By the end of 2019, Emirates ecoTHREAD would have rescued 88 million plastics bottles from landfills-equivalent to the weight of a 44 A380 aircraft. This initiative makes it the largest sustainable blanket programme on board in the airline industry.
Global fashion brand H&M have set up collection and recycling systems that supports increased textile recycling. It produces a conscious collection made using sustainable and recycled materials, creates glossy ad campaigns to encourage garment recycling, and has a voucher program offering discounts to those who donate their old clothes at its stores.
Here in Ghana, one fashion brand which has kept sustainability at its core is Osei Duro, Raffia, Studio 189 amongst others.
These are among a few companies who are practicing sustainable fashion as part of their business models. I hope Ghanaian fashion bands can equally adopt some of these models or venture into their own business models of creating sustainable brands.