Before you jump on the Black Friday sales train ask yourself: do you need this? – The Guardian

By on November 30, 2019

This morning I opened my inbox to find reams of emails – mid-season sale, 50% off, exclusive offer – enticing me to grab the best deal while it lasts. When we’re barraged by messages from the fashion industry to buy more, it’s hard to resist – and I have easily succumbed to these temptations in the past.

We are now producing and consuming fashion at a rate like never before. Since 2000, Europeans have purchased more pieces of clothing but spent less money in doing so: clothing prices in the EU have dropped by over 30%, relative to inflation. Meanwhile, the average person buys 60% more clothing and keeps it for about half as long as they did 15 years ago.

Yet we’re facing a climate crisis and rapidly exceeding the planet’s resources. With our global population predicted to grow to 9 billion, and an unprecedented culture of overproduction and mass consumption, we are pushing our planet to its limits. By 2030 the global apparel and footwear industry will grow by an estimated 80%, according to industry research. If business continues as usual, humanity may require two planets’ worth of resources by 2050.

Mass sales like Black Friday, Singles Day and Cyber Monday are only fanning the flames. This Friday, people across the globe will go crazy shopping for the cheapest offer available, some even physically fighting each other to grab products they could probably live without.

In 2018, Black Friday generated $6.2bn in online sales in the US alone – a growth of 23.6% from the previous year. Earlier this month, China’s annual Singles Day generated a record $38bn in sales, up 25% since last year.

Yes, this growth drives the economy. But what strain are we putting on our planet and people to meet this rising demand? Who’s paying for the externalities when prices are pushed to below the cost of making the products? Our planet and people are footing the bill. We’re invoicing our rivers, oceans, forests, labor force and coming generations.

We used to think we could shop our way out of an economic crisis – but today, to sustain humanity, we’ll need to reduce our consumption and do business in an entirely different and sustainable way. This will entail consuming less and reusing more. But we will also have to reconsider how we think of prices. Our race to the bottom to supply low-cost products puts even more pressure on our resources and labor rights.

In the pursuit of short-term sales, many fashion companies (and their customers) still ignore the severe environmental and social impact of production. The global apparel and footwear industry accounts for an estimated 6% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, 17-20% of all industrial water pollution and up to 20% of pesticide use. The sourcing of natural materials also damages fragile ecosystems and threatens biodiversity.

Not only does fashion have harmful consequences in the manufacturing stage, but overconsumption is also generating an unparalleled amount of waste. While the demand for clothing is projected to increase at 2% a year, the number of times clothes are actually worn has dropped by a third compared to the early 2000s, according to our research. As new clothing comes into our lives, we also discard it at a shocking rate. Fashion is primarily produced in a linear system of “take, make, dispose”, and 73% of the world’s clothing eventually ends in landfills.

In the past 10 years we have seen some promising progress in addressing the consequences of growth. Many fashion players of all sizes have committed to targets on “circularity”. François-Henri Pinault, CEO of the luxury group Kering, has recently succeeded in rallying over 35% of the market behind bold ambitions to tackle CO2 emissions, plastics in the oceans and biodiversity loss. Recycling and take-back systems are increasingly being adopted to reduce waste and reintegrate materials back into the supply chain to create new products. These are all important and valuable steps in the sustainability agenda.

Nevertheless, additional progress requires even bolder, more urgent approaches. We need to redesign the traditional way of doing business and disrupt the entire system. That means forecasting better, producing smarter and producing less. It means we must develop new business models for reusing, reselling, recycling and working collectively to avoid overproduction and thus prevent excess stock and dependency on sales. I believe there’s a compelling business case for those who invest in long-term social and environmental sustainability, not just short-term profit.

To do this, brands will need to reassess their business priorities and the impact they want to make. Leaders must address the root of the problem. Of course, the fashion industry cannot tackle this alone: dramatic change will require collaboration across the entire value chain, including organizations, policymakers, manufacturers and investors.

As a first step – starting today – I encourage you to think before jumping on the Black Friday train in the endless hunt for a bargain. Instead, ask yourself: do I really need this?

  • Eva Kruse is the CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, a non-profit organisation working to mobilise and guide the fashion industry to take bold and urgent action on sustainability. The Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2020 in May 2020 will convene leaders from across the industry to discuss the issue and potential solutions

Source Article from https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/29/black-friday-sale-fashion-clothes-shopping
Before you jump on the Black Friday sales train ask yourself: do you need this? – The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/nov/29/black-friday-sale-fashion-clothes-shopping
https://news.google.com/news/feeds?hl=en&gl=in&q=fashion&um=1&ie=UTF-8&output=rss
"fashion" – Google News
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