Monday, February 23, 2015

Sustainable. . . .WHAT?

I've  always had a passion for sustainability. Since I could remember I've looked into fashion with sustainable purpose without truly understanding the implication of what it meant. Today there are several companies out there that are coming into the realization that "Eco," "organic" and "sustainable" apparel is not only good for the environment, but it is also good for business.

The proof is in the emergence of organizations and industry specif associations targeted towards this move. Back when Nike first got hit with issues of child labor and inadequate working environments, many would agree that this was a pivotal point in bringing awareness to some of the social and environmental issues occurring in the apparel industry.

Since then companies such as Nike, Patagonia, Levis, Gap and Target have joined in on pushing for change. Some major heads of these organization now sit as board members for the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and work on systems such as the Higg Index to help measure and asses sustainability. However, even with all these great new resources the interpretation of sustainability is still very broad.  

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as below:

 1:  capable of being sustained2        a :  of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged
b :  of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods
— sus·tain·abil·i·ty \-ˌstā-nə-ˈbi-lə-tē\ noun— sus·tain·ably \-ˈstā-nə-blē\ adverb SUSTAINABLE

Defining sustainability as a word seems pretty straight forward, but putting the definition into play for apparel companies is still ever-evolving. Since one can say that this concept is fairly new, there is still little information on how to implement the concept throughout an entire company. 

One of my favorite articles that to me does an exceptional job of breaking this down is Defining Sustainability: A Process and Strategy Focus by Cecilia Wandiga via Sustainable Brands. I think this article does a great job of connecting a concept and providing categories that can be measured for outcomes.  

So Sustaibnable. . .what? Exactly, the apparel industry is still figuring this out, but even though there is still much more to improve, I would say it has come a long way. Now I encourage you all to read up on some of the resources provided and let me know your thoughts on sustainability? 

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