It’s no secret that the fashion industry is considered one of the world’s least environmentally friendly. Brands have been working to become more sustainable for decades. Still, according to Eric Fisch, National Sector Head of Retail and Apparel for HSBC, the emphasis has historically been on pre-sale processes. “We hear a lot about what goes into ESG in terms of production,” he says. “Where is the cotton sourced? How much water was used? What are the factory conditions? What is the packaging?”
However, there’s also a huge environmental impact post-sale. According to the UN Environmental Programme, for instance, one garbage truck full of old clothes, shoes and other textiles goes into a landfill or incinerator every second! Fast fashion, inexpensive products meant to be worn a few times and disposed of, has only made this problem worse.
There is good news, though. The tides are starting to change as younger generations become more important in terms of purchasing power. “As consumers, they have become more cognizant of how their actions impact the environment,” Eric says. “And today they can be – and often already are – active participants in post-sale sustainability.”