Tackling the challenge of becoming sustainable may take many forms. Leadership, transparency, relevant policies with science-based targets, and commitments to improving impacts in the land-energy-water nexus throughout the supply chain are all ways in which companies are taking steps towards a better tomorrow. Some of the leaders of these initiatives amongst the top fashion companies are Levi Strauss & Co. and Adidas.
For example, Levi Strauss & Co. release an annual sustainability report and were among the only two companies headquartered in the United States to sign the Business Ambition for 1.5˚C pledge in summer 2019. In addition to setting ambitious goals, the company has also implemented practices such as a new finishing technique that has seen 3.5 billion liters of water saved since 2011.
Adidas is another titan that has taken initiative in the industry. In a campaign to reduce plastic pollution, the company partnered with Parley for the Oceans to produce products from recycled waste. In addition, Adidas has set targets in reducing greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations. The brand tracks and audits most of its supply chain as well, aiming to improve accountability in sourcing and ethics.
These two companies are some of the best blueprints for corporate social responsibility for other large brands to follow. While facets of companies’ strategies towards sustainability move in positive directions, the industry still faces an uphill battle. Many smaller brands and companies have arisen with sustainability embedded into their operating models and value propositions—a fact worth mentioning.
Actions such as the aforementioned initiatives are a reflection of a strong demand on fashion companies to do better. However, Levi Strauss & Co. and Adidas are not perfect—and more progress remains. The segmented global supply chain will take more action and further regulation to ensure living wages, fair practice and sustainable interfacing with the environment while still delivering functionality to consumers.
Above all, the power lies with you: the consumer. We get to decide who plays. Your dollar is a vote for the direction of the market.
How would you encourage investment into sustainability that champions the triple bottom line?
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