There are several legacy indicators that illustrate an alignment between prominent industry sector players on key issues linked to the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, leading women’s fashion magazine Marie Claire recently devoted a notable issue to sustainability, while the Museum of Modern Art currently celebrates a fashion exhibit entitled “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” And, with a recent roll out of a comprehensive vision leveraging circular economy principles, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation provides a compelling call to transform how modern clothes are designed, produced, sold, and used.
While it is encouraging to witness fashion and corporate actors convening to discuss these issues, positive change requires participation from companies and consumers alike. Constructive, collaborative, and results-driven action across the industry is critically important to formulate, execute, and realize systemic change. Consequently, there are three specific strategies the fashion and apparel industry should incorporate to tackle the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals.
1. Collective implementation of apparel waste and reuse strategies
Sustainable Development Goal #12 calls for sustainable consumption and production, including efforts to reduce resource use, degradation, and pollution along the product lifecycle, while increasing quality of life. The primary crucial issue facing the textile industry is waste embedded in the production and consumption processes, generating 10 percent of global carbon emissions and 20 percent of industrial water waste, while annually directing 10.5 million tons of clothing to landfills. Due to the sheer volume of water consumption patterns present in the sector, it is fashion brands’ responsibility to take a leadership role in the promotion of sustainable water and energy use.