We've all seen the recent global reaction and demonstrations to 'climate change'.
I write this in the middle of January 2023 amidst one of the warmest winters in Europe for decades - resulting in many Ski resorts remaining closed due to lack of snow!
And whilst this blog isn't about riding on the back of what's clearly an extremely vital movement this is my opinion piece which I hope helps to highlight that the way we're running the world doesn't have the level of sustainability we have come to know.
Have you heard of 'Shein' pronounced “she-in,” it's the fast fashion Chinese behemoth.
Its biggest selling point is the low pricing of clothes that are shipped to more than 150 countries and regions worldwide, catering to women in their teens and 20s.
The business model works like Amazon - a sprawling online marketplace brings together about 6,000 clothing factories in China under Shein’s label,
Shein produces an astounding number of items on a daily basis. The primary reason why the company has an unsustainable model.
The manufacturers’ rapid use of virgin polyester and large consumption of oil churns out the same amount of CO2 as approximately 180 coal-fired power plants, according to Synthetics Anonymous 2.0, a report published on fashion sustainability.
As a result, the company leaves about 6.3 million tons of carbon dioxide a year in its trail—a number that falls well below the 45% target to reduce global carbon emissions by 2030, which the U.N. has said is necessary for fashion companies to implement to help limit global warming.
My view is that fast fashion has never been a long term sustainable business, in order to maintain growth required by investors means a constant tug of war between shareholder value, and the 'I want it now' fickle socially savvy easy disposable mindset of the consumer,and much less about environmental issues.
I say socially savvy because it's a combination of the numerous social networks the fast fashion companies are on that's helping to fuel the demand without any real perspective (or responsibility) of the hidden environmental cost, and/or solutions that are seen to be informing today's consumer.
Consumers today are being 'influenced' daily because of unprecedented access to friends, family, aspirational peer groups, and related paid for 'influencers' who are reinforcing a false sense of personal worth, all via free to use, free to access, on any device, anytime, anywhere via numerous social media platforms - GLOBALLY.
To continue in this (excuse the pun) fashion requires a radical re-think from all retail companies, which should be focused on not just getting the upfront sale over the line e.g. 'recruit and forget', but how they can get involved in managing the 'after sale' opportunity for up-cycling, and recycling, they can do this by thinking about the collaborative downward supply chain with a 'recruit and nurture' mindset.
They can do this by enabling and leveraging the 'gig economy', localisation, those working from home, or in poverty stricken parts of the world to get involved in the climate movement in a way that rewards everyone - there are many blueprints from entrepreneurs that can be used for collaboration - "where there is capacity there is opportunity".
His theory is based on the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility, which states that “as consumption increases, the marginal ‘utility’ (or happiness) derived from each additional unit declines.” In other words, consumers already own so many clothes that each new item they purchase doesn’t spark happiness.