Change can be difficult. It can also be disruptive. Take climate change, for example. Representatives from 192 countries recently penned the Global Climate Treaty in Paris. Although far from a comprehensive solution to the challenges of climate change, the treaty is a good start and does provide a basis for further action.
A major shortcoming of the agreement, however, is that it is so broad. Signatory countries pledged to cut carbon emissions over time, but the management of such reductions was discretionary. Further, it was unclear from the agreement text how manufacturing industries should reduce their carbon footprint over time.
But this vagueness could encourage companies, if not whole industries, to find a better way. Which brings me to our industry.
There are dozens of environmental initiatives in the global textile and apparel industry, all well-meaning and managed by determined leaders to lessen the supply chain’s environmental footprint. Taken together, the aggregate impact of these various programs falls short, pieces of an incomplete puzzle. Moreover, some of these programs are little more than marketing window dressing for consumers to feel good about their purchases and for manufacturers to bury the truth behind their business practices.
Take a look at the current state of the industry: it’s a significant polluter. For instance, a virtual plastic island floats in the Pacific, much of which is the result of product lost from container ships at sea. Moreover, those same container ships consume fossil fuels like never before; the longer the supply chains, the more fuel consumed. And there are those awful landfills, packed with endless tons of discarded clothing. There many may other examples, too. It’s not a pleasant picture.