THIS ISSUE

Brands in this issue include: H&M, Eileen Fisher, The North Face, Levi’s, For Days, Patagonia, and Madewell (retailers rewarding consumers for recycling), Inditex (new sustainability-focussed homepage), Jeeves (clothing collection points for Redress), Nature Footwear (shoes from pineapples), Re/Done, Outerknown, Marks & Spencer, Patagonia, and Levi’s (best eco-friendly jeans), Rent the Runway and LeTote (highlighted in article on renting clothes), The Iconic (e-commerce taking sustainability seriously), VF Corporation and Li & Fung (partnering on slavery with new app from the Mekong Club), and more.

Reports released this week:

In general news:

  • Building a sustainable brand: how to get started

  • For e-commerce retailers, sustainability is more than just a fad

  • Three articles about the downsides of recycling

  • Two articles about charity shop donations (one from China)

  • Nigerian economist supports CBN ban on textile products - says forex on imports enough to fund budget deficit

  • The Roundup row: is the world’s most popular weedkiller carcinogenic?

  • Ethiopia to host International Conference on Sustainable Industrial Areas

  • I quit fast fashion a year ago and discovered 9 reasons to never go back

  • Progress at what price: the true cost of your clothes could be a woman’s freedom

  • The Achilles heel of fashion: Overstock

  • Amsterdam ditches fur for fashion week; and California could become first state to ban fur trade

  • 132 million pieces unworn: the damning truth about our holiday wardrobes (research from Contiki)

In the supply chain:

  • Bangladesh: more stories on chemicals (including a very good one from the Wall Street Journal, noting the fire reveals chemical dangers in garment supply chain); workers press for end to discrimination; workers unable to save on current wages; a call to reinstate 12,000 retrenched workers; and a new safety body to replace the Alliance

  • Cambodia: women march with demands for better workplaces

  • China: garment factory workers strike over wages owed

  • Jordan: 3,000 new jobs for women with new garment factory

  • Macedonia: exploitation of textile workers

  • Myanmar: garment workers caught in global tug-of-war

  • Nicaragua: IndustriALL strengthens the organization of textile workers

  • Sri Lanka: new campaign to reduce social stigma of working in garments and textiles

  • Vietnam: textiles workers struggle to get by on just $50 a week

Manufacturers in this issue include: Lenzing Nanjing Fibers (quits Chinese viscose initiative), and more.

Sustainable fashion jobs: four new jobs listed (at Bestseller, Impactt, Ted Baker and Zalando).

Quotes of the week:

  • “Simply put, people today don’t want other people’s used clothes. Given a choice, poor people don’t want them either.” From an article on clothes donations in China (10 Mar).

  • “I believe that the need and use of crocodile leather is falling all around the world – particularly because of animal and nature advocates who are pushing for the use of fabric and plastic products instead.” Eng Cheasan, director-general of the Fisheries Administration at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Cambodia on the country’s diminishing number of crocodile farms (06 Mar).

  • ““Eco-guilt” from imbalance in the moral environmental account may promote pro-environmental acts, but also acts that are seemingly pro-environmental but in reality more harmful than doing nothing at all.” Patrik Sörqvist and Linda Langeborg in an academic article with an evolutionary-cognitive perspective on purchasing eco-friendly products (04 Mar).

By Stephen Frost, CUHK Business School, The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

BRANDS & RETAILERS

Global corporations test worker voice technology in Thai factories: “The Mekong Club, an anti-slavery NGO; the United Nations University, Institute on Computing and Society (UNU-CS), a U.N. research think tank, and the global companies VF Corporation and Li & Fung have joined forces to test an innovative workers’ voice app called Apprise Audit in factories in Thailand this month” (11 Mar).

The best eco-friendly jeans and denim brands you should know about: “The creation of the average pair of jeans use enough water to sustain a family of four for a month. Shocked? We were too. Which is why we've rounded up the best eco-friendly jeans and denim brands that are making jeans clean again” (10 Mar). [Ed’s note: Re/Done, Outerknown, Marks & Spencer, Patagonia, and Levi’s.]

Just rent your clothes: “Over a year ago, I set a goal not to buy new clothes. If I felt the urge to buy something, I decided, I would restrict myself to secondhand, borrowed, or rented clothing” (10 Mar). [Ed’s note: article focuses on Rent the Runway and LeTote.]

These sustainable retailers will reward you for recycling your clothes: “A number of environmentally conscious retailers have set up donation bins in their stores, and will reward customers with gift cards and coupons for every donation they make” (09 Mar). [Ed’s note: article cites the following: H&M, Eileen Fisher, The North Face, Levi’s, For Days, Patagonia, and Madewell.]

These golden vegan sneakers are made from pineapple leather: “Small Danish fashion brand Nature Footwear has launched vegan gold sneakers made from pineapples” (09 Mar).

New partner Jeeves expands Redress’ Hong Kong clothing collection points to 19 locations: “We are delighted to announce that our new partner Jeeves, Hong Kong is now accepting clothing donations at their Aberdeen and Central stores - enabling us to reach a wider audience with our mission to reduce fashion’s waste” (07 Mar).

Inditex emphasises sustainability, ethical fashion and circular economy on homepage update: The new Inditex homepage makeover has put more emphasis on sustainable fashion (March 2019).

NEWS & REPORTS

Building a sustainable brand: how to get started: “Finding a way to make clothes without harming workers or damaging the environment is one of the industry’s most daunting challenges. That doesn’t mean brands shouldn’t give it a try” (11 Mar).

For e-commerce retailers, sustainability is more than just a fad: “Once viewed as a costly exercise, sustainability is being embraced by a growing number of retailers as a strategy that delivers cost savings and satisfies the demands of consumers. Companies are exploring automation tools to reduce the amount of packaging used, trying to find alternatives to plastic, and looking to install solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint” (11 Mar). [Ed’s note: article cites initiatives by The Iconic.]

Three articles about the downsides of recycling:

Two articles about charity shop donations:

  • Is clothing donation charitable and eco-friendly? “Last week, several local media reports uncovered in different cities across China that used clothing collected from many of these drop boxes marked for “donation” were not distributed to people in need, but instead resold by textile recycling companies for profit. The public was disheartened by the news. On Weibo, the question "where did your donated clothes go?" was among the top searches on that day. Many say they felt their kindness was exploited by greedy businesses” (10 Mar).

  • Where do your charity shop donations really go?WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) estimates that around two thirds of re-used clothes end up overseas, while Andrew Brooks, author of Clothing Poverty, found that as much of 90 per cent of our charity donations are exported” (09 Mar).

Nigeria: Economist supports CBN ban on textile products - says forex on imports enough to fund budget deficit: “the amount of foreign exchange spent on funding the importation of textiles and garments was more than half of the amount need to finance the nation's budget deficit” (10 Mar). [Ed’s note: “The [apparel and textile] sector was once the hub of Africa’s largest textile industry, with over 180 textile mills in operation and employing over 450,000 people and accounting for over 25 per cent of the workforce in the manufacturing sector.”]

The Roundup row: is the world’s most popular weedkiller carcinogenic? “As a third-generation cotton farmer in Bakersfield, California, John Barton estimates that he sprayed thousands of gallons of the herbicide Roundup over the course of his 30-year working life” (09 Mar).

Ethiopia to host International Conference on Sustainable Industrial Areas: “Ethiopia is set to host the eighth edition of the International Conference on Sustainable Industrial Areas in the capital starting on April 8th” (09 Mar). [Ed’s note: Organized by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).]

Better balance for a better world: “Better Balance, Better World, released today for International Women’s Day, summarizes the [Better Work’s] programme’s findings on gender as well as independent research on the topic” (08 Mar). [Ed’s note: see full report here.]

I quit fast fashion a year ago and discovered 9 reasons to never go back: “So last April, I decided to kick my fast fashion addition for good. I stopped going to H&M, Uniqlo, Zara, Forever 21, and Target altogether. I've leaned heavily on second-hand stores and borrowing. And I've started questioning why I feel the need to buy so much in the first place” (08 Mar).

Progress at what price: the true cost of your clothes could be a woman’s freedom: “The global economy has enabled Australians and consumers from other developed nations to be removed from the suffering inflicted on millions of people for the production of clothes and other every-day goods. Sadly, this kind of exploitation is not uncommon and, in its most extreme form, has led to slavery being more rife today than any other time in human history” (08 Mar). [Ed’s note: by Grace Forrest, co-founder Walk Free Foundation.]

The Achilles heel of fashion: Overstock: “How fashion has mass-produced itself into being one of the world’s biggest environmental damaging industries” (08 Mar).

Amsterdam ditches fur for fashion week: “Amsterdam Fashion Week has announced it will ditch fur at this season’s event and at all of its future fashion events. The move came about following a conversation with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the largest animal rights organization in the world” (08 Mar).

132 million pieces unworn: the damning truth about our holiday wardrobes: “Contiki – the millennial holiday brand that specialises in group getaways across the globe – have come to understand that a huge 132 million holiday clothes are going unworn and could end up in landfill every year” (08 Mar).

California could become first state to ban fur trade: ” A bill that would do just that had its first committee hearing on Wednesday. Actress Shannon Elizabeth of “American Pie” fame was at the State Capitol on Wednesday to help push for the bill” (07 Mar).

7 dos and don’ts of shopping sustainable and ethical fashion: “We’ve been brainwashed to think we need to wash items after wearing it just once. Unless it’s your undergarments, washing your garments after one wear is privilege at its finest” (07 Mar).

Why people harm the environment although they try to treat it well: an evolutionary-cognitive perspective on climate compensation: [Ed’s note: an academic article arguing ‘eco-friendly’ labels cause consumers to purchase seemingly environmentally-friendly products (hoping to cancel out the environmentally negative impacts), which in reality may be more harmful than doing nothing at all. Or as one newspaper headline put it, “Using 'eco-friendly' products to 'kiss and make up to the planet' for going off on long-haul flights will NOT make up for mankind's environmentally damaging habits.”]. (04 Mar).

THE SUPPLY CHAIN

Bangladesh  

Chemical units shifting: No dilly-dallying: “According to recent media reports, there are approximately 25,000 chemical and plastic factories and warehouses in Old Dhaka. Appallingly, 15000 of them are housed in residential buildings. Reliable sources put the percentage of the chemical warehouses having permits at 2 per cent, with the rest operating without licence from the city corporation” (09 Mar). 

RMG workers in Savar seek an end to discrimination: “To press their various demands, female workers of several garment factories formed a human chain in Savar yesterday. Under the banner of “Bangladesh Garment and Industrial Workers Federation”, more than 300 workers joined the programme in front of Rana Plaza site” (09 Mar).

Unable to save: An RMG worker’s cost of living: “Although Shahida earns about three times more than she did 10 years ago, not much has changed in terms of her standard of living because the cost of living has risen manyfold” (09 Mar).

Bangladesh unions call to reinstate over 12,000 retrenched garment workers: “In a letter to the Minister of labour and employment on 5 March, the IndustriALL Bangladesh Council (IBC) demanded immediate intervention of the government to withdraw false cases, free the imprisoned and reinstate all dismissed workers in the backdrop of mass protests for wage hike across readymade garment manufacturing units” (09 Mar). [Ed’s note: article cites the following units as dismissing union activists and members: East West Group, Abonti Color Tex, and Garib&Garib.]

Fire reveals chemical dangers in garment supply chain: “The fire that tore through a neighborhood here last month, killing around 70 people, began in an apartment block where chemicals for cosmetics were stored and nearly ignited the building’s basement warehouse of clothing dye. The tragedy revealed an overlooked danger in the international garment trade’s supply chain: the improper storage of volatile chemicals before they are transported to factories” (08 Mar).

Bangladesh gets new RMG safety body: “Following the dissolution of The Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, a new organisation has been formed to work on training programmes to maintain safety performance in the Bangladesh garment and textile sectors with what it’s calling a new, ‘light-touch’ approach” (06 Mar).

Cambodia

Forces prevent Women’s Day march: “The group listed seven demands in the petition. They requested the government to create a centre for baby care at workplaces … actions to stop harassment and sexual violence against women at workplaces, violence against women working as human right defenders, reform of the transportation system for garment workers to avoid traffic accidents” (11 Mar).

China

Workers go on strike protesting wage arrears owed by garment factory in Sixian, Anhui: (07 Mar). [Ed’s note: from CLB’s strike map.]

Jordan

3,000 female workers to get jobs in Jordan RMG sector soon: “More than 3,000 female workers of the country are likely to get work in the garments sector of Jordan soon. Classic Fashion Apparel Industry, the largest garment manufacturer of Jordan, is going to hire workers from Bangladesh along with some other countries around the world, according to sources” (09 Mar).

Macedonia

Exploitation of textile workers in Macedonia: “Macedonia hosts hundreds of textile factories, 90 % of which are in Greek hands. The quality they produce is high: they deliver to companies such as Zara, Benetton, Versace and other famous brands. Still, the 180,000 women employed in this industry work for 12 to 14 hours per day for a ‘guaranteed’ minimum wage of barely 200 euros per month” (07 Mar).

Myanmar

Myanmar garment workers caught in global tug-of-war: “The garment sector in Myanmar faces challenges to its commercial survival, with the possibility of losing tariff-free status in the European Union just the latest blow, a new report has noted” (08 Mar).

Nicaragua

IndustriALL strengthens the organization of textile workers in Nicaragua: “IndustriALL Global Union and Union to Union held a planning workshop to strengthen the textile sector in Nicaragua, from February 28 to March 1 in Managua. The objective was to empower the organization of the unions affiliated to IndustriALL and other union organizations in the country” (11 March).

Sri Lanka

Apparel industry empowers women; drives Lanka’s economy: “[W]hile social stigma relating to female labour participation still persists within the country, the female labour force makes a significant contribution across many industries, ranging from domestic labour to healthcare … The apparel industry is aware of this situation and organisations within the industry are firmly working towards shattering this stigma. In order to address this issue, JAAF launched ‘Matai Mage Ratatai’ – a campaign in partnership with the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters’ Association (SLAEA) and the Export Development Board (EDB)”  (10 Mar). [Ed’s note: you can see a video of the ‘Matai Mage Ratatai’ campaign here, and the official theme song here.]

Vietnam

Textiles workers struggle to get by on just $50 a week: “A study of fashion suppliers in Việt Nam conducted by the Institute of Workers and Unions and Oxfam Việt Nam found that 99 per cent of surveyed workers earn below the Asia Floor Wage of VNĐ8.9 million ($382) while 74 per cent earn below the Global Living Wage Coalition (Anker) benchmark of VNĐ5.2 million ($223)” (08 Mar).

MANUFACTURERS

Sustainability and ‘green’ production: “Eco, green, sustainable, and environmentally friendly -- are all terms widely used within in all sectors including RMG industry, but does manufacturing a sustainable product actually make it green and, conversely, does making a green product actually make it sustainable?” (11 Mar).

W&D factory highlights productivity drop: “A representative of the W&D Garment Company [in Cambodia] yesterday said it lost about $1 million after more than 1,000 of its workers held rallies over two months” (11 Mar).

LNF leaves Chinese viscose initiative: “Lenzing Nanjing Fibers (LNF) has decided to leave the Collaboration for Sustainable Development of Viscose (CV). This initiative originally encompassed ten viscose producers in China joining forces to make the industry more sustainable” (08 Mar).

Strategy to help make Bangladesh leather sector vibrant: “The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has prepared a roadmap outlining a strategy for enhancing the country's leather sector exports. Submitted to the government recently, the roadmap sets a vision of ranking Bangladesh amongst the top 10 leather export countries in the world by 2025 from the present minuscule share” (10 Mar). [Ed’s note: see also IFC for aggressive marketing to raise global share (08 Mar).]

Cambodia’s crocodile farming industry struggling to remain afloat: “The crocodile farming industry in Cambodia is facing uncertainty due to a lack of demand and increasing costs of crocodile feed, which has led to some breeders to reduce their operations … ““I believe that the need and use of crocodile leather is falling all around the world – particularly because of animal and nature advocates who are pushing for the use of fabric and plastic products instead”” (06 Mar).

SUSTAINABLE FASHION JOBS

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

Ascena Retail Group: Director, Supply Chain Sustainability (Hong Kong)

* Bestseller: Sustainability Reporting & Communications Manager (Copenhagen / Aarhus / Brande / Amsterdam, Denmark)

BSR: Manager, Supply Chain Sustainability (New York)

Common Objective: Content Editor/Writer (London)

Common Objective: Product Designer (UX/UI) (London)

Common Objective: Office Manager (London)

Fashion Revolution: Global Network Manager (London or nearby)

* Impactt: Marketing Manager (London)

Lululemon: Director, Product Sustainability (Vancouver)

Myanmar Garment Manufacturers Association: Junior Labour Officer (Myanmar)

Patagonia: Head of Supply Chain Environmental Responsibility (Ventura, California)

Redress: Sustainable Fashion Associate (Hong Kong)

Redress: Creative Media Designer (Hong Kong)

Ted Baker: Sustainability Coordinator (London)

Ted Baker: Ethical and Sustainability Assistant (London)

* Ted Baker: Ethical Specialist (London)

* Zalando: Director Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (Berlin)

CONFERENCES & SEMINARS                                        

[New listings or updated information marked with *]

12 – 13 March: Shanghai: Intertextile Shanghai: Multiple seminars and workshops on sustainability topics.

13 – 14 March: Sydney, Australia: Responsible Fashion Summit: “circular economy, sustainable fibres, worker empowerment, legislation and new business models.”

14 March, London: Drapers Sustainable Fashion 2019: “Brings together the most sustainable brands and retailers, trailblazers and unicorns, disruptors, progressive thinkers and pioneers.”

14 March, Hong Kong: Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain Hong Kong Conference 2019: “Focus on emerging risks to the leather industry and how these may be addressed through innovation and sustainable solutions.”

14 March, The Hague, Netherlands: Learning Seminar for Garment and Textile Brands: ‘Sourcing responsibly in Turkey. How to do due diligence?’: “Organised by the Dutch Agreement for Sustainable Garments & Textile (AGT) in cooperation with Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), supported by the AGT Turkey Taskforce.”

* 18 March, Melbourne, Australia: Future of Sustainable Fashion Workshop by SAC: “event hosted by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC).

18 -19 March, New York: 7th Responsible Business Summit: Lead the change to a new sustainable future: Invest, Collaborate and Innovate (hosted by Ethical Corporation).

21 – 22 March, Melbourne, Australia: The Australian Circular Fashion Conference.

08 – 11 April, Budapest: 4th Global Sustainable Fashion Week: “press conference, international conferences, workshops, eco fashion shows and cultural programs.”

09 – 10 April, Amsterdam: Sustainable Apparel and Textiles Conference: “How brands can transform factories, increase transparency and implement circularity in fashion and textile supply chains.”

17 April, Northampton, UK: Half Day Understanding REACH Training Course: “Understanding the differences between the Candidate List, Annex XVII and Annex XIV.”

23 – 26 April, Northampton, UK: 4 Day Practical Leather Technology Training Course: “Ideal for those who are heavily involved with leather, such as supply chain staff, tannery staff, leather buyers, footwear technologists or those who need to top up their leather technology knowledge.”

* 24 – 25 April, Brussels: Circular - Bio-based - Digital: the Keys to Europe's Textile Future: Annual Textile ETP Conference and General Assembly.

02 May, Dhaka: Bangladesh Fashionology Summit: Transparency through technology, technology for decent work and environment, future skills development.

08 May, Manchester, UK: Time for Change – Facing up to fashion’s sustainability and ethical challenges: ASBCI’s 2019 Spring Conference.

15 – 16 May, Copenhagen: Copenhagen Fashion Summit: “Join us this May when fashion’s most visionary and innovative minds gather to discuss the most critical issues facing our industry and planet.”

03 – 06 June: Detroit: SB’19 Detroit: “Navigate your brand’s sustainability journey to deliver business success,” by Sustainable Brands.

10 – 12 June, London: Ethical Corporation’s 18th Responsible Business Summit Europe: “It’s time to Lead: Innovate, Engage and Collaborate.”

12 June, Northampton, UK: 1 Day Chemical Compliance and Product Safety Training Course: “On this chemical course, our in-house chemical expert will guide you through the various legislations and chemicals in a simple step-by-step process, ensuring that you are aware of your obligation and how to comply.” (For the leather industry.)

18 – 20 June, Minneapolis, USA: Circularity 19: “Circularity 19 will bring together more than 500 thought leaders and practitioners to define and accelerate the circular economy.”

22 June, Barcelona: Planet Textiles 2019: “The 10th edition of Planet Textiles will be a seminal event on sustainability in the textile manufacturing sector and will see an unrivalled gathering of experts from the entire fashion value chain.”

08 September, Dhaka, Bangladesh: GOTS Bangladesh Seminar 2019: For sponsorship or speaking opportunities Sumit Gupta at the link.

15 – 18 October: Vancouver: Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference: Textile Exchange call for breakout presentations.

(Photo Mike Wilson, CCO)

Disclaimer: The Fashion Sustainability Week in Review (FSWIR) is a twice-weekly roundup of sustainability news items relevant to the fashion, apparel, textile and related industries. The views and opinions expressed in the FSWIR by individual authors and/or media outlets cited do not necessarily reflect the position of GoBlu International or any individual associated with the company.

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