SDG’s – A Blueprint for Sustainable Fashion Impact

The fashion industry is the second-largest polluter in the world and the first or second-largest source of employment in many countries, the ecological impact of the fashion industry is enormous.

The Sustainable Development Goals are the blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future for all. They address the global challenges we face, including those related to poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The 17 Goals are all interconnected, and to leave no one behind, The SDGs, set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by the year 2030

Fashion & Sustainable Development Goals

The first sustainable development goal is SDG 1 which says No Poverty

The low pays are persistent in the fashion supply chain. The wages are much below the living wages. As per Deloitte study, only 4% of the price of clothing is estimated back to workers. Also study conducted by walk free foundation revealed that the fashion supply chain is 2nd highest at risk for modern slavery

The next sustainable development goal is SDG 5  which says Gender equality

60-75 million people work directly in the fashion industry and out of which 70 to 80% are women, and many of them are subjected to exploitation, verbal, and physical abuse. Also, women are estimated to earn 75% of what men make, and nearly one in three female garment workers experience sexual harassment in their workplace.

The next sustainable goal is SDG 8, which says Decent work and economic growth,  is arms to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, and decent work for all. To pay living wages in the apparel supply chain would result in only a small price increase of 2-5% for the consumer. The subset of SDG 8 (SDG 8.7) says about child labour which is a significant concern in the fashion industry.

The next one is SDG 13, which points out to climate action.

Fashion Industry is responsible for 2-3% of global GHG emissions which can go up to 60% higher by 2030 if goes at the same pace. PET and other synthetic fibres which are  60 to 65% of apparel supply chain made up of fossil fuels (uses 350 million barrel of oils every year). Production of textile uses 93 billion cubic meters of water annually, which is 4% of usages of global freshwater. Growing cotton requires a lot of water and use a high amount of insecticides and pesticides, on the other hand, regenerated cellulose like viscose cause deforestation (150 million trees logged every year ) this contributes to climate break down and alter biodiversity.

The next SDG 12 is Sustainable Consumption and Production aims to reduce resource use, pollution and environmental degradation throughout the entire lifecycle of a product, whilst also improving the quality of life of everyone in the supply chain, from the producer through to the consumer.

Going to next SDG’s  SDG 6 Clean Water & Sanitation and SDG 14 life below water

Ten thousand litres of water required to produce 1 kg of cotton typically 5 to 6 T-shirts. The textile wet processing industry pollutes 70 % of Asia rivers and lakes 35% of microplastic pollution in the ocean comes from the clothing industry

The next SDG for the fashion supply chain is SDG 15, which aims to conserve and restore ecosystems such as forest, wetlands, drylands and mountains.

The last SDG is SDG 17, which talks about partnerships between stakeholder in the supply chain for sustainable living.

To achieve science-based targets that defined as per selected SDG’s the supply chain should address traceability and material impact, reducing the impacts at each stage, social impact across the supply chain and transparency, monitoring and reporting for the entire system.

Let’s address the essential aspects that affect the fashion supply chain.

The first aspect is the design as it impacts the entire product life cycle, starting the whole supply chain, consumer and end of life stage. The crucial points that need to be considered are longevity, minimal waste, less care, and close loop recycling.

The next aspect is raw materials, and things that need to be considered here are GHG emissions, water consumption, cost, Renewable carbon materials, availability and other factors which alters biodiversity 

The next one is yarn and fabric production and points that need to consider here are the use of renewable energy, proper maintenance of machinery and less waste & emissions

The next aspect textile wet processing is crucial as it is water-intensive, water-polluting and energy-intensive and points need to consider here are low impact dyes and chemicals, Biomaterials, low liquor machines, Zero liquid discharge, waterless dyeing, Right first time, compliance with RSL and MRSL, heat recovery systems and low impact processing (light shades and off white garments )

The next aspect is garmenting, and points need to be considered here are minimal waste, reuse of scrap materials, fewer or smart blends to make it recyclable and partnership with recycling facilities.

After garmenting comes transportation where we need to consider the use of ships and trains instead of aeroplanes, integrated facilities and proximity to warehouses

Once garments reach in the hand of the customer, the next aspect of Care – Repair – Rewear-  Recycle came into the picture.

The last aspect which is relevant across the supply chain is social sustainability which includes living wages, decent life, gender equality and safety for workers and consumers.

Source: Fashion Revolution & FutureLearn


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