Food for Thought: The myth of sustainable fashion

In his provocative Harvard Business Review piece, former Timberland COO Kenneth P. Pucker argues the fashion industry is unsustainable and continues to struggle with making forward progress: “Less unsustainable is not sustainable. To their credit, Patagonia no longer uses the term,” says Pucker.

He points out that the industry’s carbon impact range from 4% (McKinsey and the Global Fashion Agenda) to 10% (U.N.) of overall global carbon emissions. Globalization, cost pressures, complex supply chains, and plain old consumerism continue to push the fashion industry into less sustainable practices.

What changes will truly transform the fashion industry?

  • Embracing true transparency including disclosing lobbying efforts and mandatory stewardship reports
  • Defining a goal to replace the GDP that takes social, natural, economic, and human factors into account
  • Legislating: Government rule makers must price negative externalities; for example, carbon and water should be taxed to include social costs

Read Pucker’s full article in the Harvard Business Review

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