Sustainable Fashion is a branch of environmental ethics. As such, it is in the fashion industry’s best interests to align its goals with those of environmental practice using ecological approaches to fit fashion into the category. In environmental ethics the value aspect is most important, judging based on what is considered to be valuable and where the value comes from. Ecological concern is asking who counts morally and why, while focusing on how to create conditions under which human beings should be conducting themselves in the nonhuman natural world. In pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 12 (SDG12) for fashion sustainability by 2030, we should be looking at future oriented thinking and collaborating more with customers. Hence why it is important to highlight the benefits of consumer based eco-efficiency over eco-efficiency alone.
Customers are the driving force behind any sales driven market, and such is the case in fashion. The future oriented thinking model focuses on the creation of innovative ways to use customer relations to guide corporate social and environmental responsibility. The first step towards creating value in oriented thinking is by creating strong customer-corporate relations. Strong bonds between customers and their favourite brand creates a dialogue that informs businesses of the customer’s needs. The data obtained for new business opportunities is created using the information provided by customers’ preferences through their loyalty to the brand. In order to achieve these ideas radical business thinking is required by focusing on garment usability and consumer satisfaction.
To transform the system towards sustainability, it will not be enough to change existing products through eco-efficiency improvements. Eco-efficiency is characterised by decreasing environmental industrial impacts while using less material to create more products, resulting in less waste. This approach also means savings in material, energy, chemical costs and waste disposal costs. Cutting down costs does not guarantee a more sustainable business model, it only guarantees lessened environmental impact which will slow down over time and need to be transformed again.
Consumer based eco-efficiency
This method of business transformation does not only focus on the environmental aspect, it makes consumers feel included in the system towards sustainability. This aspect also focuses on product quality and consumer satisfaction. Through the consumer satisfaction aspect value can be created for the consumer, the company and the environment. Satisfied customers use products for longer, resulting in decreased amounts of clothes purchased and consumption in general. Eco-efficiency is the system early sustainability practitioners used, and adding customer satisfaction to the list, the entire cycle is complete from a business point of view. Successful businesses can be used as the primary model to achieving sustainable practices through consumer based eco-efficiency. It should also be noted, however, that each business is different and that achieving perfect working conditions will take time. It will be through collaborative efforts between businesses, sub contractors and consumers that mutual motivation and value can be created.
Ninimäki, K (2015). Ethical Foundations in Sustainable Fashion. DOI: 10.1186/S40689-015-0002-1