Sustainability as brand or marketing value in the short-term

During the first lockdown of March 2020, I was sent a snippet on WhatsApp that I thought about quite a bit. I will share it below. It said that the world continued on its way and it was only human beings who had been put in cages. It was sending us a message:

“You are not necessary. The air, the land, the water, and the sky are good without you. When you come back out, remember that you are only my guests, not my owners.

Do you know what the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is? ACS, Bankinter, Inditex, Santander, BBVA, Iberdrola, Telefónica, Enagás, Naturgy… Up to 19 Spanish companies can be found in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

The Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI) lists the global leaders in terms of sustainability. It shows the highest 10% of the 2,500 largest companies in the S&P Global BMI based on short-term economic, environmental, and social criteria.

When it comes to the fashion sector, it is common knowledge that the textile industry is the second-biggest polluter among all industries.

What are the largest fashion brands doing with sustainability? What news could we read today?

The majority of the largest brands are launching capsule collections of sustainable fashion and are concerned with getting good results that they can publish in their annual reports. They are also concerned with winning the sustainability race against their competition. Sample headlines:

H&M, as detailed in their latest sustainability report, already manufactures their items with 64.5% materials that are recycled, organic, and obtained as sustainably as possible.

Inditex, last year launched the Join Life label (highlighting items with a special level of sustainability in regard to materials or processes) and have a secondhand clothing programme for recycling or giving items a second life. Their objective for the year 2025 is to have 100% of all the cotton, linen, and polyester used by the group’s eight brands be organic, sustainable, or recycled.

At Mango they have set the objective of using eco-friendly cotton in 100% of their items by the year 2025, as well as to increase the proportion of other sustainable fibres used in production. This way, they hope to increase the use of recycled polyester in their items up to 50% before 2025. As well, they want 100% of the cellulosic fibres they use to have a defined designation of origin before 2030.

The big question is, how can we distinguish if 100% of a certain item is truly sustainable or if the sustainability is a self-proclaimed marketing ploy?

To be 100% sustainable, three criteria must be met: 

  • It must use organic or recycled textiles.
  • It must be produced in Spain, or if it is in Asia, it must be done in compliance with specific labour standards.
  • The amount produced cannot be higher than the amount sold.

We have many exceptionally good companies that are 100% sustainable, such as Bullfeet or ActandBe.

These companies definitely meet the three requirements. They produce their 100% “made in Spain” products with natural fibres like bamboo and organic cotton.  They also use recycled materials like RPET or recycled cotton.

I couldn’t finish this post without giving a special mention to Ecoalf. I am a customer of this brand and I love their values. They surprise me with how well they explain in their newsletters the origin of the recycled material they use to manufacture their sneakers, flip-flops, or any other item.

Writing this article, I have found out that the name of the brand comes from combining the world “Ecology” with the initials of the founder’s sons, Alfredo and Álvaro. Can there be a stronger statement of intent than joining the word ecology with that of your children’s names, in the pursuit of making the world a better place? I don’t think anyone can compete with this.

As a final reflection, I read in an article that six of every ten investors would accept lower profits to help the planet.

In the United States, sustainable investment is reaching annual levels of growth over 20% according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance. In Spain we are less developed in this regard, but in my opinion, it will continue to grow exponentially thanks to our landmark brands and level of public awareness.

If you are a company and are concerned about sustainability, at wemuse we can help you with our showroom 2.0. Wemuse can help you be more sustainable by reducing travel time and in-person meetings, taking into account that suggestions and votes regarding collections can all take place on wemuse. There is also a “green” benefit if companies get it right their product selection, less leftover means better sustainability.

 

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