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*
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.