Weekly ethical fashion news digest

Here is a weekly update in which I link you to interesting newpaper articles. The selection of articles is arbitrary and the summaries very brief:

Guy Champniss, in Guardian Professional Network: How can we change consumer behaviour to benefit the environment?

presents the concept of “social labelling”, which follows the idea that attitudes are formed as a result of behaviour – and not vice versa. Sounds interesting and corresponds to what the authors of “The Myth of the Ethical Consumer” say, if I remember correctly. Interesting online platoform is Green Decisions, which calculates the costs of ownership of a product.

Jo Confino, Guardian Professional Network: Time for advertising to steer consumers towards sustainable choices

portrays David Jones, a marketing expert, who pledges that company marketing should play a bigger role in making sustainability more attractive to consumers. He says interesting stuff like:

“There will be people who want brands as badges, and what we can do is change what those badges stand for.” or

“Radical transparency will do more to break our obsession with profit at any cost than anything else” or

“What we are seeing today is that social media has created access to more information about the consequences of our actions, and we are waking up to the fact we can no longer carry on business as usual. If the industrial revolution gave power to the company, digital revolution gives power to the consumer.” or

“The best way to mainstream sustainable living is to legislate. If I had said in 1990 that in 20 years you would not be able to smoke in a bar or restaurant in most places around the world, few people would have believed it. This is the most dramatic way of creating change.”

Martin Wright, Guardian: Success means telling people to buy less.

analyses how Patagonia exists to show that a for-profit companies can have sustainability built into the way it does business: “So we’re willing to have lower profitability at the beginning of a larger project in order to scale out over the long term.” or “We have two budget cycles: annual, and 10-year … This will cost us more upfront, but at the end of 10 years it will have paid for itself. We’re prepared to do the necessary investment to get a long term payback.”

Michael Höft in ZEIT online about the business selling used clothing to Africa: Das Kilo für 1,20 Dollar. Das große Geschäft mit den Kleiderspenden aus Deutschland

analyzes what happens to charity clothing that consumers donate to organizations like the Red Cross. He looks at the world leader in textile recycling, the Soex Group, with a turnover of 58 Mio. Euro, which in 2010 processed 85.000 tons of the annual 700.000 tons clothing collected a year in Germany. The little bad stuff is being recycled, the good clothes go to Eastern Europe and the 60% clothing of lower quality go to Africa, where it is sold and where it destroys local textile markets. For instance, in Tansania, 80.000 former textile workers have lost their job, due to the imports, because the local production cannot compete with the used clothing. One ex textile worker says: »Diese Kinderkleidung hier? Ich bin sicher, dass die Menschen, die sie gespendet haben, etwas Gutes tun wollten. Sicherlich rechnet keiner damit, dass sie uns in eine schreckliche Katastrophe gestürzt haben.« The way out of this? Friedel Hütz-Adams from the NGOS Südwind, who is working on a study on the topic, recommends: Cut-up your clothes before you donate them – but this somehow does not seem rights; maybe better resell them in Germany or in Ebay, as Patagonia tries.

Höft also did a 30 minutes documentary “Die Altkleider-Lüge” for the German TV station NDR.

What do you think of this weekly digest format?



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