Due to this summer’s freak weather conditions- boiling hot temperatures to torrential downpours and everything in between, the effects of climate change are becoming ever more difficult to ignore. This means that when you read headlines about fast-fashion brands such as Zara discussing sustainability goals, it’s a relief to feel like the fashion world is waking up and taking responsibility for their company’s emissions. There’s no denying that this, discussion and commitment to greener fabrics and less toxic manufacturing methods is a great step forward, however, the question still remains – is this enough?
Slow fashion advocates would argue not. Many feel that sustainability goals do not fit in with the business model of fast-fashion. These small changes do not cut to the root of the issue, which is overconsumption of manufactured goods. Therefore, attempting to justify buying new clothes through marketing the garments as eco-friendly, instead of encouraging people to reuse and mend old clothes, is a case of greenwashing.
Take for example the recent promise of Zara to move slower and create responsibility. In the last month, Inditex, Zara’s owner, has created a six-year sustainability plan:
- By 2020
In-store donation boxes will be offered, employees will be trained in sustainable practices, dangerous chemicals will be removed from the supply chain and the use of fibres that are harvested from endangered forests e.g. Viscose, will be discontinued.
- By 2023
All single-use plastic in packaging will be removed.
- By 2025
No waste will be sent from Zara to landfill
This has been marked by some slow fashionistas as an attempt to clear the customers’ conscience without acknowledging the problem of excessive production. Whilst Zara have committed to going slower, they are still releasing 500 new designs each week, adding up to 20,000 a year. It’s hard to imagine how this business model can fit into a sustainable world.
On the other hand, raising awareness of problems such as hazardous chemicals in the supply chain and the use of fibres from deforested landscapes is an important step in improving our planet’s health. As they stand, Zara’s goals are not enough to combat the problems of climate change, but Zara should still be encouraged in their efforts. Ultimately, these goals should be viewed as steps in the direction of more sustainable business models, rather than the solution to fast-fashion.
BY: MIRANDA STONER
Image credit: Zara 2019