It is no longer about a business choosing to lessen its environmental and social impact; its instead expected that fashion companies find different ways to reduce the natural and social costs of their products and services. Fashion businesses that make their supply chain more sustainable will be able to build and maintain a more resilient supply chain capable of unlocking strategic opportunities. According to Velislava Ivanova, EY Americas Climate Change and Sustainability Services Leader, the change will “conserve resources, optimize processes, uncover product innovations, save costs, increase productivity, and promote corporate values.”
Greening the Supply Chain
According to a 2016 McKinsey report, the majority of greenhouse gas emissions stem from the beginning of the supply chain, so for a fashion supply chain to be considered sustainable, it needs to tick a few boxes. They include eco-friendly material sourcing, safe factory work conditions, sustainable manufacturing practices, and distribution, green retail practices, and ethical consumer decision making.
If your objective is to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance by changing traditional practices, here are a few changes you can make so your supply chain becomes more sustainable.
- Securing Traceable and Sustainable Sourcing
Forward-thinking fashion businesses are beginning to work with their suppliers to secure traceable and sustainable sourcing that could benefit every step of their supply chain. For instance, instead of using cotton, which requires a considerable amount of water and pesticides, some companies are using bt cotton, a genetically modified cotton strain that is naturally resistant to insects and reduces the need for pesticides. If the idea of genetically modified organisms scares you, there are other alternatives like hemp, soy, and bamboo. Also, partnering with progressive businesses and building a smart network will help you make smart sourcing decisions.
- Changing Manufacturing Practices
Harnessing sustainability in your supply chain is a smart and practical way to do business in the 21st century. One of the ways you can do this is by reducing the water, power, and electricity used during manufacturing by implementing tech systems like AirDye, a process that allows you to print or dye your garments with no need for water.
- Adopting Nature-Based Solutions
If you are looking to make significant reductions that keep you on track so you can attain your sustainability targets, you could start by cutting greenhouse gas emissions. According to Gucci’s CEO Marco Bizzarri, you can achieve the reduction of your footprint across the supply chain, by taking the remaining emissions across all the supply chain and offset them into nature-based solutions that protect critical forests and biodiversity around the world. It’s worth noting that nature-based solutions represent around 30% of the climate solution. Therefore, it makes sense to acknowledge this fact so you can successfully incorporate nature-based solutions into climate your strategies.
- Investing in Software
There are software systems out there intended to help fashion businesses increase accountability, transparency, and traceability. Today’s technology makes it easier for creatives to design sustainable collections, source materials, collaborate on sampling, and manage production. If you are looking for a full package service, then the Suuchi GRID could be right up your street. It is a solution that ensures complete transparency throughout an entire process by empowering users to make smarter, data-backed business decisions. With the ability to help businesses grow faster, the GRID gives its users the ability to manage their supply chain on a modular level, including access to a network of responsible and trusted manufacturers.
- Taking On The Carbon Neutral Challenge
It is time to commit to becoming net-zero. Let 2020 be the year that you take on the carbon-neutral challenge. Don’t worry; you will not be alone; some fashion brands have already pledged to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 30% or more over ten years. Luxury brand Gucci has committed to going completely carbon neutral. “The time for talking is over,” said Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri in September 2019. Adding: “At a certain point, you need to act.” Despite numerous pledges, there has been some commentary on how very few brands have committed to cutting emissions. Still, I do believe that these things take time because to create a climate plan, you need first to document your climate impact.