Our sixth SDG Meetup, which took place during the 2019 Fashion Revolution Week, was a special edition in collaboration with Fashion Revolution.
Together with speakers from sustainable denim pioneers G-Star Raw and the Circle Textiles initiative of Circle Economy, we will explore Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) closely related to the fashion sector. These include SDG 13: Climate Action, SDG 6: Clean Water & Sanitation, SDG 12: Responsible Consumption & Production, and SDG 15: Life on Land.
In addition to inspiring talks from Fashion Revolution, Circle Economy and G-Star RAW, we hosted a sustainable fashion marketplace with Project CeCe | NEXT way of living | Fraenck | Enschede Textielstad | Roxy van Bemmel | Fashion Revolution Netherlands | Aya Conceptstore.
Fashion Revolution / Clean & Unique
Founder Roosmarie Ruigrok shared her personal story of looking for a change after two decades working in fashion. Years later, and after a career that includes being an ISO certifier in the fashion industry, network builder, and startup entrepreneur, her passion continues to be contagious. Roosmarie zoomed in on key gaps in the fashion industry, namely no ownership, no transparency across the supply chain, fashion made to be wasted, and no real incentives to change for retail giants and brands. Her call for action is clear: we need greater understanding, research, and partnership. And we ultimately must build a movement where consumers buy sustainably and actors across the fashion supply chain have no choice but to get in line and design for the future. To stay in the loop, follow the Fashion Revolution hashtag, #fash_rev!
Waste is nothing more than a failed relationship, said Circle Textiles researcher and analyst Natalia Papu, who shared some startling facts about the need for circular – or regenerative – solutions in the fashion industry: post-industrial textile waste can amount to 10-15% of the amount of fabric used, pre-consumer waste is close to 30% and just looking at post-consumption statistics, as much as 4,7 million tonnes of clothing are wasted each year in North-Western Europe alone. Clothing ends up in landfills or garbage dumps, only made worse by the fact that a significant share of textiles cannot be recycled. With support from Interreg North-West Europe, Circle Economy together with project partners Leger des Heils Reshare, Procotex, Smart Fibersorting, Valvan Baling Systems and WornAgain launched Fibersort, an industry-level, multi-stakeholder partnership initiative to address this last issue: the reusability of fabric and fibres in the sector. Her call to action for change agents working fashion? Join Fibersort!
Global Sustainability Manager Sofie Schop spoke of G-Star’s sustainability journey and started off by admitting that the company is not where it wants to be yet in terms of its sustainability goals. Unfortunately, cotton is still a dirty crop: the second most damaging fabric in the fashion industry. To truly move the needle, we need the whole industry to change. through successful partnerships and collaboration. Sofie works every day with suppliers, partners, and teams on-the-ground to make a positive impact. Her desire for the industry: transparency. Only then, will fashion be sustainable, and sustainability fashionable. And only then, will sustainability have the arguments they need to convince board-level executives shareholders to get transform the fashion industry.
Insights and ideas for sustainable fashion
During an innovation pressure cooker, the audience worked in small groups to identify problems that are important to them and co-create practical solutions. From the group conversations, it was clear that the need to engage and incentivise consumers. Reward systems and stickers that retailers can display to convey their commitment were some of the many ideas that came up. Another emerging topic was the need for better data to celebrate the sustainability leaders in sustainability and trigger those lagging behind.