A paradox of sustainability in clothing business

The life cycle analyses, discussed last Wednesday at class, made me think more about sustainability in the textile industry. It is an industry that produces a lot of disposable products, and does it in many ways shady conditions. There is lot of problems with sustainability in textile industry, from all of it’s aspects; the use sweatshop labor, over cultivation of soil, over production, etc. Despite all efforts of reducing these problems, they still occur in the industry. The biggest players (H&M, Inditex etc,) try to play by the rules, but too often there is something to comment on from Green Peace or some other organization that is working towards more sustainable world.

H&M has a new answer for the disposable nature of textile industry’s products. Since the beginning of current year they have started to accept used clothes from their customers, who in return of giving their old clothes to H&M receive a discount voucher for the shop. the collected clothes are either reused in some way or used in the energy production. This way they want to contribute on the recycling of their own and the whole industry’s waste.

The project has been criticized for some obvious reasons; that by giving a voucher to the customers they are encouraged to consume more, that a giant manufacturer of disposable garment is trying to ease it’s conscience with this rather small effort and the list goes on. I agree with these critiques. The biggest critique in my opinion is that H&M is only trying to cure the symptom, not the cause. The big players are the ones that should have the power the influence the whole industry. But of course they have to think about their own business, that is basically based on disposable products since the trends are so rapidly changing. The consumption patterns should change radically in order to make the industry more sustainable, but I can’t see that happening in the near future.



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