What’s all about #sustainable #fashion

Sustainable fashion (also known as eco-fashion) is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice.[1] Sustainable fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. It addresses the entire manner in which clothing is produced, who produces it, and how long the life span of a product is before it reaches the landfill. This sustainable movement combats the large carbon footprint that the fashion industry and fast fashion have created by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.[2] Reducing the environmental impact of fashion can combat air pollutionwater pollution and overall climate change that could possibly prevent millions of premature deaths over the next century.

Sustainable fashion deals with considering fashion from the perspective of a variety of stakeholders ranging from contemporary producers and consumers of clothes, to future producers and consumers.[3]

In 2020, it was found that an approach of voluntarily self-directed reform of textile manufacturing supply chains to substantially reduce the environmental impact of fashion by large companies themselves has failed.[4][5]Measures to reform fashion towards sustainability beyond marketing campaigns of greenwashing may need to involve policies for the creation and enforcement of standardizedcertificates along with related import control and subsidy-[6] and eco-tariffs-like interventions.[7][8][9]

Background and history

The origins of the sustainable fashion movement are intertwined with those of the modern environmental movement, and specifically the publication in 1962 of the book Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson.[10] Carson’s book exposed the serious and widespread pollution associated with the use of agricultural chemicals, a theme that is still important in the debate around the environmental and social impact of fashion today. The decades which followed saw the impact of human actions on the environment to be more systematically investigated, including the effects of industrial activity, and new concepts for mitigating these effects, notably sustainable development, a term coined in 1987 by the Brundtland Report.[11]

In the early 1990s and roughly coinciding with the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, popularly known as the Rio Earth Summit, ‘green issues’ (as they were called at the time) made their way into fashion and textiles publications.[12][13] Typically these publications featured the work of well-known companies such as Patagonia and ESPRIT, who in the late 1980s brought environmental concerns into their businesses. The owners of those companies at that time, Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins, were outdoorsmen and witnessed the environment being harmed by overproduction and overconsumption of material goods. They commissioned research into the impact of fibers used in their companies. For Patagonia, this resulted in a lifecycle assessment for four fibers, cotton, wool, nylon, and polyester. For ESPRIT the focus was on cotton—and finding better alternatives to it—which represented 90% of their business at that time. Interestingly, a similar focus on materials impact and selection is still the norm in sustainable fashion thirty years on.[14]

The principles of ‘green’ or ‘eco’ fashion, as put forward by these two companies, was based on the philosophy of the deep ecologists Arne NæssFritjof Capra, and Ernest Callenbach, and design theorist Victor Papanek.[15] This imperative is also linked to a feminist understanding of human-nature relationships, interconnectedness and “ethics of care” as advocated by Carolyn Merchant,[16] Suzi Gablik,[17] Vandana Shiva,[18] and Carol Gilligan.[19] The legacy of the early work of Patagonia and ESPRIT continues to shape the fashion industry agenda around sustainability today. They co-funded the first organic cotton conference held in 1991 in Visalia, California. And in 1992, the ESPRIT e-collection, developed by head designer Lynda Grose,[20] was launched at retail. The collection was based on the Eco Audit Guide, published by the Elmwood Institute. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, the movement in sustainable fashion broadened to include many brands. Though the primary focus has remained on improving the impact of products through fiber and fabric processing and material provenance, Doug Tompkins and Yvon Chouinard were early to note that exponential growth and consumption are not sustainable.[21] ESPRIT placed an ad in Utne Reader in 1990 making a plea for responsible consumption. In 2011 the brand Patagonia ran an ad and a PR campaign called “Don’t Buy This Jacket” with a picture of Patagonia merchandise. This message was intended to encourage people to consider the effect that consumption has on the environment, and to purchase only what they need.[22]

In parallel with the industry agenda, a research agenda around sustainable fashion has been in development since the early 1990s, with the field now having its own history, dynamics, politics, practices, sub-movements and evolution of analytical and critical language.[23][24][25][26][27][28] The field is broad in scope and includes technical projects that seek to improve the resource efficiency of existing operations,[29] the work of brands and designers to work within current priorities[30] as well as those which look to fundamentally re imagine the fashion system differently, including the growth logic.[31] In 2019, a group of researchers formed the Union for Concerned Researchers in Fashion (UCRF) to advocate for radical and coordinated research activity commensurate with the challenges of biodiversity loss and climate change.[32] In the fall of 2019, the UCRF received the North Star Award at the Green Carpet Fashion Awards during Milan Fashion Week.[33]

Purpose

Followers of the sustainable fashion movement believe that the fashion industry has a clear opportunity to act differently, pursuing profit and growth while also creating new value and deeper wealth for society and therefore for the world economy. They believe that clothing companies ought to place environmental, social, and ethical improvements on management’s agenda.[34][35] The goal of sustainable fashion is to create flourishing ecosystems and communities through its activity.[30] This may include: increasing the value of local production and products; prolonging the lifecycle of materials; increasing the value of timeless garments; reducing the amount of waste; and reducing the harm to the environment created as a result of production and consumption. Another of its aims can sometimes be seen to educate people to practice environmentally friendly consumption by promoting the “green consumer”, which can allow for the company itself to gain more support and a larger following.[36][37]

There are doubts within the movement as to the effectiveness of “green consumerism.” Business models based on selling more units of clothing or accessories are widely not considered to be sustainable, regardless of how “eco-friendly” the garments themselves are. Thus the industry has to change its basic premise for profit, yet this is slow coming as it requires a large shift in business practices, models and tools for assessment.[38] This became apparent in the discussions following the Burberry report of the brand burning unsold goods worth around £28.6m (about $37.8 million) in 2018,[39]exposing not only overproduction and subsequent destruction of unsold stock as a normal business practice, but the behavior amongst brands that actively undermine a sustainable fashion agenda.[40]

The challenge for making fashion more sustainable requires to rethink the whole system, and this call for action is in itself not new. The Union of Concerned Researchers in Fashion has argued that the industry is still discussing the same ideas as were originally mooted in the late 1980s and early 1990s. When taking the long view and examining fashion and sustainability progress since the 1990s, there are few actual advances in ecological terms. As the Union observes, “So far, the mission of sustainable fashion has been an utter failure and all small and incremental changes have been drowned by an explosive economy of extraction, consumption, waste and continuous labor abuse.”[41]

A frequently asked question of those working in the area of sustainable fashion is whether the field itself is an oxymoron.[42] This reflects the seemingly irreconcilable possibility of bringing together fashion (understood as constant change, and tied to business models based on continuous replacement of goods) and sustainability (understood as continuity and resourcefulness).[14] The apparent paradox dissolves if fashion is seen more broadly, not only as a process aligned to expansionist business models,[43][44] and consumption of new clothing, but instead as mechanism that leads to more engaged ways of living[45][31] on a precious and changing earth.[46][47]

Temporal concerns related to fashion

Fashion is, per definition, a phenomenon related to time: a popular expression in a certain time and context. This also affects the perception of what is and should be made more sustainable – if fashion should be “fast” or “slow” – or if it should be more exclusive or inclusive.[48][49]Like much other design, the objects of fashion exist in the interzone between desire and discard along a temporal axis, between the shimmering urge towards life and the thermodynamic fate of death. As noted by cultural theorist Brian Thill, “waste is every object, plus time.”[50]

Retailers start to warn of business impact from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Rising inflation and global supply chain strains remain top of mind for retailers as they navigate the post-holiday earnings season. But also making its way into conversations with analysts and investors is Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,

A number of retailers have temporarily halted operations in Russia, either as a signal of corporate condemnation of the war or because these companies are unable to carry on business in the country due to imposed sanctions impacting logistics.

Retailers are already trying to gauge future demand in still unpredictable times and keep shelves stocked without ordering too much merchandise. Businesses are trying to lure consumers back into their stores as Covid cases wane and immunity increases. Yet it could prove to be trickier than this time a year ago, when President Joe Biden and Congress signed off on stimulus payments to families.

Retailers shut stores and make contingency plans

All of this could weigh heavily on the American consumer. Companies, from food producers to auto makers, will likely bear greater burdens from skyrocketing oil prices and ongoing supply chain headaches. Price increases are often passed on to the customer.

Returns are costing #Amazon billions of dollars

Amazon’s multi-billion dollar returns issue is causing a huge problem for the company and the planet.
//  According to a National Retail Federation survey, a record $761 billion of merchandise was returned to retailers last year

Analysts estimate that given Amazon’s $469 billion of net sales revenue last year, returns numbers are likely to be staggering.

won’t share its overall return numbers, however the NRF estimated that 16.6% of all merchandise sold during the holiday season was returned, a figure up over 56% from the year before.

Online purchase return rates were even higher up from 18% in 2020 to 21% last year.

Analysts estimate that given Amazon’s $469 billion of net sales revenue last year, returns numbers are likely to be staggering.

US returns generate approximately 16 million tons of CO2 emissions during their convoluted reverse journey and up to 5.8 billion pounds of landfill waste every year

We’re talking about billions, billions, and billions of [dollars of] waste that’s a byproduct of consumerism run amok,” Columbia Business School director of retail studies Mark Cohen told CNBC.

“The reverse logistics are always going to be nasty because the merchandise, in most cases, cannot be resold as it was originally,” Cohen said.

“The most expedient pathway is into a dumpster, into a landfill.”

The ecommerce giant told CNBC that is doesn’t send any items to landfills but relies on “energy recovery” as a last resort.

“Energy recovery means you burn something to produce heat, to produce energy. And you rationalise the disposal of goods as a conversion from one form of matter to another,” Cohen added.

“To the degree they’re doing that I don’t think they fully reveal.”

Amazon has said that it is currently “working towards a goal of zero product disposal,” although it couldn’t set a target date for reaching the goal.

“We encourage a second life on all of the products that we receive back,” the company’s head of North America returns Cherris Armour told CNBC.

“And that comes in the form of selling the majority of the items that we do receive. They are resold as new and used, or they go back to the seller or supplier, or we donate them.”

Cos’e’ il #metaverso

Cos’è il metaverso e perché è considerato il futuro di Internet (e del mondo)

Dopo l’annuncio di Facebook/Meta, il metaverso è candidato a diventare la parola del prossimo decennio. Una guida per capire come funziona e quali aziende hanno già investito sul progetto

Il metaverso è la prossima grande scommessa a cavallo tra tecnologia e social media. L’idea di costruire un nuovo mondo virtuale come diretta evoluzione di Internet è un boccone goloso per tantissime aziende che stanno già pensando ai soldi (anche quelli virtuali) che riscuoteranno dagli utenti per vendere loro l’accesso a un nuovo universo fatto di esperienze, film, concerti, incontri, giochi e tutto ciò che riesci ad immaginare in forma digitale. Pensa alla tua routine quotidiana e declinala in formato virtuale: riunioni, incontri, pranzi, sport, fitness, film, fiere, videogiochi e acquisti saranno convertiti per essere disponibili nel nuovo ambiente 3D in via di costruzione.

Cos’è il metaverso e da dove nasce il nome 

Lo scrittore Neal Stephenson ha creato questa parola per descrivere l’ambiente virtuale in cui viveva l’avatar digitale del protagonista del romanzo Snow Crash, uscito nel 1992. Da allora sono stati soprattutto i film di fantascienza a mettere in scena il metaverso – seppur, molto spesso, nella sua accezione distopica e alienante – in primis Ready Player One, dove le persone passavano gran parte del loro tempo in un mondo virtuale dorato in cerca di premi.  

L’idea è quella: tu indossi un visore o un paio di occhiali e ti ritrovi immerso in una gigantesca città virtuale in cui puoi decidere cosa fare, proprio come cliccheresti su un link all’interno del tuo browser. Puoi seguire una riunione con i colleghi dell’ufficio, fare shopping come se fossi al supermercato, provarti la nuova collezione dei tuoi brand di abbigliamento preferito oppure giocare, disegnare, invitare amici nella tua casa «digitale» e così via. All’interno del metaverso potrai comprare anche oggetti virtuali da sfoggiare con gli amici mentre sei in Rete sfruttando la tecnologia Blockchain e gli NFT per sbloccare contenuti in esclusiva (come opere d’arte, token sportivi o pezzi di film da collezione).  

Quali aziende ci hanno scommesso 

Abbiamo già parlato di Meta, ma anche Microsoft, Roblox, Epic Games, Tencent, Alibaba e ByteDance hanno già investito milioni di dollari sullo sviluppo del progetto. L’azienda di Redmond ha presentato Mesh per Microsoft Teams che ti consente di partecipare alle videochiamate in versione avatar, fornendo un senso di presenza condiviso in riunione. Il bello di questa idea è che puoi farlo da qualsiasi dispositivo, senza aver bisogno di occhiali o visori particolari, visto che ci penserà il cloud di Microsoft a costruire la realtà virtuale sfruttando l’intelligenza artificiale.  

Roblox sta allestendo un vero e proprio team dedicato allo sviluppo di giochi per il metaverso, mentre Epic Games – ossia Fortnite – vuole vederci chiaro su come implementarlo all’interno della propria piattaforma dove, già ora, si può assistere a concerti, film e commemorazioni virtuali come nel caso di Martin Luther King Jr. Alibaba vuole farsi trovare pronta all’esplosione dell’e-commerce virtuale, mentre ByteDance (che controlla TikTok) sta capendo come far evolvere i video in formato 3D.  

I problemi del metaverso 

Al netto dei pericoli sociali derivanti dal rinchiudersi in un ambiente virtuale, il metaverso dovrà superare alcuni ostacoli per prendere quota. Se i visori, la realtà virtuale e le piattaforme sono già disponibili – o quasi – esistono alcuni problemi che dovranno essere risolti necessariamente. Il primo: chi gestirà il metaverso? La soluzione plausibile è affidarsi ad un’organizzazione senza scopo di lucro che gestisca tutto sullo stile di quanto sta succedendo adesso con Internet. E il secondo (strettamente legato al primo): basterà un solo metaverso o ne vedremo a decine? Dipende, se le aziende si metteranno d’accordo, costruire un solo mondo virtuale farebbe bene a tutti: agli utenti, che potrebbero cambiare piattaforma come cambiano sito adesso sul browser; e alle aziende, che potrebbero avere una buona base di utenti su cui appoggiarsi.  

Sistemati questi due ostacoli, bisognerà pensare alla sicurezza degli utenti, alla gestione della privacy, alle influenze sulla società da tutti i punti di vista e all’egemonia tecnologica che potrebbe crearsi. Ma queste sono domande che dovranno essere poste dopo l’introduzione del metaverso, per cui abbiamo ancora qualche anno prima di trovare le risposte giuste.