New ‘Wellness cabinet’ sponsored by the European Environmental Bureau, argues for a fashion shift beyond growth to a system where human and ecological health come first.
The report, which features research conducted by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, comes amid growing skepticism about economic strategies rooted in GDP growth at all costs. Moreover, it is part of the European Commission’s plans to step up efforts to regulate the textile sector through a new sustainability strategy, explains the European Environmental Bureau.
“Fashion’s embrace of growth has helped make it one of the most polluting, wasteful and exploitative industries in the world, but existing strategies to tackle fashion’s unsustainability – like the use of recycled materials in fast fashion or labeling systems – stop short of challenging the problematic industry’s dominant business model,” he notes.
Using the concept of “welfare economics” – an umbrella term to describe alternative economic concepts of growth – the research identified four guiding principles for building a post-growth direction for the fashion industry so that it works in the interest of the common good:
1. Establishment boundaries reduce the quantity produced and consumed while respecting planetary limits
2. Promotion justice to ensure social justice on a global scale
3. Create just governance to ensure the transition is inclusive and participatory
4. Kiss new trading systems where clothing and textiles are provided independently of overproduction and overconsumption.
“We are all aware of the environmental impacts of the sector – carbon emissions, water pollution and the growing problem of textile and clothing waste – and we know only too well the poor social sustainability standards throughout the supply chain. . This is after years, even decades in some cases, of trying to resolve these issues. We urgently need to look at the sector in a new way,” says Dr Samantha Sharpe, Research Director of the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney.
She adds, “We need to shift the focus away from growth, the cause of overproduction and consumption, and focus on well-being.”
Emily Macintosh, head of textile policy at the European Environmental Bureau, points out: “Unraveling the fashion industry’s obsession with economic growth is the only way to stop environmentally damaging and exploitative overproduction. . Politicians have a responsibility to ensure that new EU rules on the textile industry are more than a smear of business as usual. It is time to look beyond GDP and turn to the principles of welfare economics so that we can redesign a textile system in line with human needs and the limits of our planet.
Click here to access the full report.