We take a look at the fashion industry and the impact on our planet and how we can move towards more ethically focussed eCommerce.
How many of you are aware that the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter to the planet?
Me neither; until I was carrying out some research a couple of months ago.
It surprised me to find out that some of the much discussed, micro plastic pollution is coming from us washing our clothes!…Synthetic fibres coming ‘out in the wash’ so to speak.
The movement towards more ethical trade and consumption is becoming more prevalent day by day, but our shopping habits and way of life is counter intuitive to this drive. Our want it now and want it fast habits are adding extra pressure on the environment, but companies and governments are trying to do something about it.
The 5p plastic carrier bag charge is having a positive impact on our habits, since we have implemented this our plastic consumption in the UK has dropped by 83%, with more than £66m of the revenue generated from the charges being donated to good causes* (*edie.net 2017).
We’ve noticed an ongoing pressure, and commitment, to driving fair and ethical practices within the apparel retail industry. Whether it’s the environmental impact of apparel manufacturing or the wellbeing of those involved in production, this is something that will shape the retail industry going forward and become an important driver of brand loyalty.
As shoppers become more aware of unethical practices through the news and social media, they will become more loyal and engaged with brands whose ethos matches their own.
The rise of fast fashion doesn’t help companies when looking at the ethical process and consumption of clothes. Due to the increase in trend cycles (we can see up to 50 cycles per year, instead of the traditional 2) clothing is becoming a quick fix, short term purchase, leading to a much larger volume of unwanted goods – the ones left in stores and in the back of people’s wardrobes.
According to eConsultancy ‘fast fashion’ has grown by 21% over the last 2 years, much quicker than the luxury market. Mckinsey & Company carried out a study that found the average consumer bought 60% more clothing in 2014 compared to 2000 but kept each garment half as long.
How can we reconcile a business model that encourages such a drive in production whilst meeting the important needs of reducing our environmental impact? Technology is at the forefront of enabling companies to become more responsible towards to the planet. Companies can now use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to better understand their processes, customers and market trends; so they can increase sales, reduce returns and improve stock management. Delivery companies like DPD are committed to smart urban delivery to reduce local pollution and improve customer experience with reduced waiting times for parcels.
Shopper user experiences can also be improved to help make buying decisions easier. Fit recommendation technology by Rakuten Fits Me is being used by companies like Mud Jeans, to not only provide a more personalised shopping experience, but also to help reduce their fit based returns. As an ethical jeans company this helps them to meet a variety of their sustainability drives.