Sustainability Design 
by Erika Taylor

 

Economic & Environmental Sustainability Within Fashion

  • Published on April 12, 2022

Fashion is intrinsically personal; our choice to wear, or to not wear, a garment can be deeply reflective of who we are and what values we hold. Participation in it ultimately encourages personal connection to one’s environment and culture, whether one agrees with it or not. In the new era of sustainability, fashion can be used as a gateway to connect individuals across various economies in a way that is synergetic, for the subsequent benefit of both people and planet. 

The sustainable fashion movement connects experts and enthusiasts in multiple disciplines, from the sciences to explain the environmental impact of fashion, to the arts as it relates to creative design. Through a collaborative effort between involved industries (arts, sciences, economics, etc.), environmentally positive solutions for fashion can be developed that can be beneficial to all parties involved. 

Some of the largest opposition to sustainability has unfortunately arisen from the economic or financial end of fashion, with many asking if sustainability is profitable in the long-run for corporations, given that more sustainable manufacturing methods are often more expensive than options that may pollute more. While it is a greater initial “investment” to utilize sustainable methods within manufacturing (such as water recycling), research conducted by Oxford University and other partners shows that there is a strong positive correlation between economic profitability and good business practices in sustainability. While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, recent spikes in consumer demand for sustainably-produced products should entice corporations, if environmental preservation is not enough motivation.

To say it plainly: Consumers want products that are authentically sustainable. Marketing sustainability or eco-friendliness is no longer enough to satiate the ever-growing market group of informed shoppers — a consumer group more apt to research products before purchasing. Long gone are the days where the public purchased based on availability; consumers today research endlessly to make sure they are provided the best sustainability, quality, and price (among other qualifications) for the items they purchase. If they find that claims of sustainability are false, scandal often emerges, especially in the realm of fashion.

In short, opposition to sustainability in fashion within the financial sector cannot withstand the growing demand for sustainably-produced products from consumers. The quantity of informed consumers continues to increase, as social media has become a widespread tool to spread information relating to the sustainable fashion movement. As the movement continues to grow, industries need to collaborate, or cooperate, in order to create economically and environmentally positive, long-term solutions. 

My second article for Raisonné & Hammer Price Corporation / Geoffrey Hill - a brief discussion of the profitability of sustainable business practices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modern Vernacular for Environmental Sustainability: The Importance of Language in Discussion

  • Published on March 20, 2022

As sustainability becomes commonplace in both practice and marketing within business, it is increasingly important to properly define modern vernacular associated with it. The term “sustainability” itself can be broken down individually into its prefix sustain- and its suffix -ability in order to understand it within the contexts of business. In short, sustainability in business is the capacity for a company or corporation to execute a particular action, such as manufacturing, indefinitely without harm to people or the planet. It is largely understood that sustainability encompasses an intersection between environmental, economic, and social factors that ultimately dictate whether a business can still be effective and profitable while still reducing harm. 

As of late, sustainability jargon has largely risen in relation to environmental factors, especially in the form of “buzzwords,” such as green, pure, natural, or eco-friendly, which have very little authentic meaning or methods of verification associated with them. Other terminology is far more misleading, as it has roots in scientific practices:

Organic:

Speaking scientifically, or in relation to chemistry, a compound is “organic” if it contains carbon. This term can be misleading because it is often used as a way to denote “cleanliness” of the product or a lack of harmful materials, despite the term only describing the presence of “living,” Earth-based material. 

Energy Efficient:

If something is “efficient” in energy, it uses less power in order to properly function (such as a lightbulb) relative to other similar products. Through advancements in manufacturing alone, newer products are more energy-efficient than their older counterparts, meaning that this terminology has often been used as a marketing grab rather than as a real comparison to other products in the same market. 

Other terms that fall into this category include biodegradable, bioplastics, non-toxic, recyclable, and many more that can make claims to sustainability appear legitimate. The general misuse of this vernacular, in addition to much more that is not listed here, has ultimately resulted in a dilution of the accurate meaning of sustainability within business, especially within fashion and other marketing-heavy industries.

An understanding of sustainability jargon is essential in the discussion of it because it has become easy for corporations to utilize the terminology for their personal benefit, rather than for the benefit of the environment. With the commodification of sustainability jargon within the media, it can be challenging for consumers to verify if claims to sustainability or "eco-friendliness" are true. This is a phenomenon commonly known as Greenwashing, which is when a business markets a product using  fraudulent or exaggerated claims regarding their environmental sustainability. 

Ultimately, it is important for modern consumers to have a larger understanding of the lexicon of sustainability due to the prevalence of Greenwashing within professional marketing settings, if they are eager to invest in companies and products that truly minimize their impact on the environment. Currently, there is little to no regulation regarding the usage of terminology commonly used in Greenwashing; consumers must circumvent these strategies by being armed with knowledge.

Raisonné & Hammer Price Corporation 2022

My first article for Raisonné & Hammer Price Corporation regarding the importance of understanding and properly defining words associated with hashtag#sustainability — Thank you to Geoffrey Hill for the opportunity to write for RHPC!

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