DELIVERING EU ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY THROUGH FAIR COMPARISONS OF NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC FIBRE TEXTILES IN PEF

Make the Label Count Campaign: Simon J. Clarke, Ingun G. Klepp, Kirsi Laitala and Stephen G. Wiedemann.

Summary

Sustainability has become a priority objective for the European Union (EU). It is a key driver for policy development through the global leadership role the EU has taken in addressing climate change, decoupling economic growth from resource use, and the sustainable use of
resources. The global supply of textiles has been recognized by the EU as a major source of emissions and resource use; the sector has become increasingly reliant on fossil feedstocks to supply synthetic fibres, and the textile industry has been roundly criticised for unsustainable and non-circular consumption patterns.


The Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) system – which assesses a product’s environmental impact and provides consumers with information on that impact – has the potential to be paramount in directing the textile sector towards a sustainable system of production and consumption. However, the PEF system has not been designed to deliver the EU’s strategies and, without amendment, its application to the textiles sector risks undermining the EU’s laudable intent. The PEF system is designed to facilitate like-with-like comparisons, but assessment of textiles made from natural and synthetic fibres are not yet comparable because the impacts of forming natural fibres are fully accounted for, but omitted for fossil fuels. The single biggest sustainability issue for the textile industry is the growth in synthetic fibre production and the causally related rise in fast fashion. A PEF-derived comparison will not challenge the over-consumption of resources, and risks legitimising unsustainable consumption with an EU-backed green claim.


These limitations present a significant challenge to the delivery of both EU strategy and the PEF goal of providing fair comparisons of products based on their environmental credentials.


In combination, the characteristics of the textiles category, together with the limitations of PEF methodology, provide a strong argument for not comparing textiles made from renewable and non-renewable raw materials. However, achieving the EU Green Deal and circular economy objectives mandates a pragmatic approach; hence our analysis recommends methodological improvements to deliver EU environmental policy through fair comparisons of natural and synthetic fibre textiles in PEF. Addressing these limitations now will avoid
the same problems arising when PEF is applied to other product categories that compare renewable and non-renewable raw materials, such as furniture and fuel.

Click here to read the full report (makethelabelcount.org).

”Hvorfor kan ikke bare alle produkter være bærekraftige?” Hvordan forbrukere oppfatter og påvirkes av markedsføring med bærekraftpåstander

Nina Heidenstrøm, Ingrid Haugsrud, Marie Hebrok & Harald Throne-Holst

Formålet med denne rapporten er å få en bedre forståelse av hvordan markedsføring med bærekraftpåstander kommuniseres til norske forbrukere gjennom nettbutikker og sosiale medier, og hvordan forbrukerne oppfatter og håndterer markedsføringen. Rapporten ser spesielt på to produktkategorier; klær og kosmetikk. En skrivebordsstudie analyserer markedsføringens tekstlige og visuelle utforming, og data fra fokusgrupper brukes for å forstå hvilke ressurser og begrensninger forbrukerne har i møte med markedsføringen. Skrivebordsstudien viser at markedsføringen av klær og kosmetikk benytter seg av store og felles samfunnsfortellinger om hvordan vi skal møte klimautfordringene gjennom forbruksendringer. Fortellingene bruker emosjoner, moral og logikk i sine argumenter, som forsterkes gjennom symboler og visuelle atmosfærer. Resultatene fra fokusgruppene viser at informasjon og kunnskap om markedsføring med bærekraftpåstander per i dag ikke er tilstrekkelig, og det er lav tillit til påvirkere i sosiale medier, forhandlere, og produsenter. Tilliten er høy til myndighetene, som samtidig anses å være ansvarlige for å regulere markedsføringen.

Rapporten avsluttes med fire læringspunkter for å utbedre forbrukernes forståelse av markedsføring med bærekraftpåstander:

i) standardisere og kontekstualisere informasjon,

ii) videreutvikle det nordiske miljømerket,

iii) regulere feilbruk av vitenskapelig kunnskap og

iv) lage retningslinjer for visuelle virkemidler. 

This report aims to gain a deeper understanding of how marketing with sustainability claims is communicated to Norwegian consumers through online stores and social media, and how consumers perceive and handle such marketing. The report looks specifically at two product categories: clothing and cosmetics. A desktop study analyses the textual and visual design of the marketing, and data from focus groups are used to understand what resources and limitations consumers have when facing sustainability claims. The desktop study shows that marketing of clothing and cosmetics are constructed using shared cultural narratives about how we should understand and act on the global climate crisis through changed patterns of consumption. The narratives use emotions, moral and logic in their arguments, which are reinforced through symbols and visual atmospheres. The focus group results show that information and knowledge about marketing with sustainability claims is insufficient, and there is a low level of trust in social media influencers, retailers, and manufacturers. There is a high level of trust in national authorities, who are also considered to be responsible for regulating marketing. The report concludes with four learning points to improve consumers’ understanding of marketing with sustainability claims: i) standardise and contextualise information, ii) further develop the Nordic eco-label, iii) regulate misuse of scientific knowledge, and iv) create guidelines for visual techniques in marketing.

Durable or cheap? Parents’ acquisition of children’s clothing

Ingun Grimstad Klepp & Vilde Haugrønning

Abstract

Parents are faced with a plurality of choices and concerns when it comes to the acquisition of clothing for their children. This paper explores how parents employ longevity in consumption of children’s clothing from a practice-oriented perspective. The material consists of 6 focus groups with 40 parents who have at least one child under the age of 18. The aim of the groups was to establish children’s clothing needs: how many they need of each garment, how long parents expect the garment to last and what they understand as quality in clothing.

The analysis shows that parents mainly opt for an ‘one or the other’ strategy; they choose what they understand as quality, often affiliated with specific brands, and accept paying more for the garment, or they mainly choose based on low prices, and expect less of the garment. Quality is evaluated based on the garments’ durability and function. More specifically, the parents measure the service lifetime of a garment based on the number of seasons it lasts, either in terms of wear and tear or the child growing out of it. The expected lifetime is defined by uncertain sources, from their own and friends’ experiences, and their desire to justify their own choices as well as routinised practices.

Our discussion section employs these findings and contextualise them within product lifetime discourses. By doing this, we provide knowledge about how quality is understood, and how brand and price are used as indicators. We show how lack of information about products, especially on garments, leads to uninformed consumption practices that have consequences for how quality and longevity are prioritised and understood.

Click here to read the full article (www.ul.ie)

Consumer practices for extending the social lifetimes of sofas and clothing

Vilde Haugrønning, Kirsi Laitala & Ingun Grimstad Klepp

Abstract

Consumers play an essential role in efforts to extend product lifetimes (PL) and consumers’ practices can determine how long and active lives products get. Applying the framework of Social Practice Theory, this paper argues that in order to suggest changes to how consumers can contribute to longer product lifespans, research needs to focus on consumer practices. The data material consists of 4 focus group interviews with 38 participants about household goods and 29 semi-structured interviews about clothing.

Previous research shows that consumers’ expectations of product lifetime has decreased, while satisfaction with products is relatively high, which may indicate that product break down and/or replacement is more accepted. Therefore, we argue, it is necessary to focus on social lifespans. Our findings show that products such as clothing and sofas often go out of use or are disposed of before their physical lifespan ends, and it is more common to donate or sell old clothing and sofas than buying the products second hand. There are a number of routinised practices, such as disposal of functional items, that are considered normal, which leads to less reflexivity of seemingly unsustainable practices.

The material in products, or the expectation to the material, is highly influential for practices that can extend the social lifespan, such as maintenance. We conclude that by understanding practices as integrated and influenced by elements of the material, social and cultural, policy interventions may have a greater impact on the social lifespan of products.

Click here to read the full article (www.ul.ie)

Reducing environmental impacts from garments through best practice garment use and care, using the example of a Merino wool sweater

Stephen G. Wiedemann, Leo Briggs, Quan V. Nguyen, Simon J. Clarke, Kirsi Laitala and Ingun G. Klepp

Abstract

Purpose

Garment production and use generate substantial environmental impacts, and the care and use are key determinants of cradle-to-grave impacts. The present study investigated the potential to reduce environmental impacts by applying best practices for garment care combined with increased garment use. A wool sweater is used as an example because wool garments have particular attributes that favour reduced environmental impacts in the use phase.

Methods

A cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment (LCA) was used to compare six plausible best and worst-case practice scenarios for use and care of a wool sweater, relative to current practices. These focussed on options available to consumers to reduce impacts, including reduced washing frequency, use of more efficient washing machines, reduced use of machine clothing dryers, garment reuse by multiple users, and increasing number of garment wears before disposal. A sixth scenario combined all options. Worst practices took the worst plausible alternative for each option investigated. Impacts were reported per wear in Western Europe for climate change, fossil energy demand, water stress and freshwater consumption.

Results and discussion

Washing less frequently reduced impacts by between 4 and 20%, while using more efficient washing machines at capacity reduced impacts by 1 to 6%, depending on the impact category. Reduced use of machine dryer reduced impacts by < 5% across all indicators. Reusing garments by multiple users increased life span and reduced impacts by 25–28% across all indicators. Increasing wears from 109 to 400 per garment lifespan had the largest effect, decreasing impacts by 60% to 68% depending on the impact category. Best practice care, where garment use was maximised and care practices focussed on the minimum practical requirements, resulted in a ~ 75% reduction in impacts across all indicators. Unsurprisingly, worst-case scenarios increased impacts dramatically: using the garment once before disposal increased GHG impacts over 100 times.

Conclusions

Wool sweaters have potential for long life and low environmental impact in use, but there are substantial differences between the best, current and worst-case scenarios. Detailed information about garment care and lifespans is needed to understand and reduce environmental impacts. Opportunities exist for consumers to rapidly and dramatically reduce these impacts. The fashion industry can facilitate this through garment design and marketing that promotes and enables long wear life and minimal care.

Click here to read the full article (springer.com).

Barn og unges forbruk: Klær, mat og kropp

Bahr Bugge, Silje Elisabeth Skuland, Kamilla Knutsen Steinnes og Helene Fiane Teigen

Sammendrag

Denne rapporten, som i hovedsak er basert på en spørreundersøkelse om barn, klær, mat og kropp blant foreldre med barn i alderen 1-16 år, beskriver barn og unges forbruk av klær og mat og hvordan de forholder seg til kropp, helse og miljø. Undersøkelsen viser at mange foreldre gir klær til gjenbruk, men en mindre andel sier at deres barn bruker brukte klær. Spesielt klær blant de yngste barna går i arv. Det er vanlig å reparere barneklær selv, men uvanlig å betale andre for det. De færreste foreldre svarer at barna går med halvskitne klær, men helse og miljø fremstår ikke som spesielt viktige for foreldre når det gjelder klesvask. Det er delte meninger om og erfaringer omkring spørsmål om klær, klesnormer, kjønn, kjøpepress og religion. Hovedansvar for barns klær har mødrene eller ansvaret deles likt mellom foreldrene. Barn og unges meninger om klærs betydning for inkludering og erting er delte, det samme gjelder skoleuniform som mulig løsning. De er mer positive til dette tiltaket enn foreldrene. Resultatene viser at det mangler kunnskap om hvordan vi kan kle barn slik at de får en sunn, trygg og god barndom og hvem som har ansvar for at det skjer.

De fleste barn og unge rapporterer et mat- og spisemønster som er i tråd med ernæringspolitiske målsettinger. Tilgjengeligheten hjemme av sunne matvarer er høy i barnefamilier og tilgjengeligheten av usunne matvarer er lavere, men en av ti sier at de alltid har usunne matvare hjemme. Tre av fire foreldre sier at deres yngste barn spiser matpakke hver dag på skolen, og mange er enige i at matpakka bør erstattes med et skolemåltid. Behovet for å erstatte matpakka med et skolemåltid er størst blant foreldre i de laveste inntekts- og utdannelsesgruppene, og for foreldre som oppgir at barna deres ikke spiser matpakke daglig på skolen. Foreldre synes at det i stor grad er den enkeltes ansvar å spise sunt, men at også myndighetene har ansvar. Mange foreldre er enige i at myndigheter bør benytte seg av prisvirkemidler og at markedsføring og reklame av usunn mat til barn bør forbys. Barn og unge uttrykker både tilfredshet og misnøye med egen kropp og utseende. Ungdommer, jenter oftere enn gutter, gjennomfører en rekke skjønnhets- og kroppspraksiser regelmessig. Det er vanlig blant unge å unngå mat som allment anses som usunn.

Klikk her for å lese hele rapporten (oda.oslomet.no).

Summary

This report, which is mainly based on a survey about children, clothes, food and the body among parents of children aged 1-16 years, describes children’s and young people’s consumption of clothing and food and how they relate to the body, health and the environment. The survey shows that many parents give clothes for reuse, but a small proportion say that their children wear used clothes. Especially clothes among the youngest children are inherited. It is common to repair children’s clothes yourself, but unusual to pay others for it. Few parents answer that their children wear half-dirty clothes, but health and the environment do not appear to be particularly important for parents when it comes to laundry. There are divided opinions and experiences about questions about clothing, clothing standards, gender, buying pressure and religion. The main responsibility for children’s clothes lies with the mothers or the responsibility is shared equally between the parents. Children’s and young people’s opinions about the importance of clothing for inclusion and teasing are divided, as is the school uniform as a possible solution. They are more positive about this measure than the parents. The results show that there is a lack of knowledge about how we can dress children so that they have a healthy, safe and good childhood and who is responsible for it happening.

Most children and young people report a food and eating pattern that is in line with nutritional policy objectives. The availability of healthy foods at home is high in families with children and the availability of unhealthy foods is lower, but one in ten says that they always have unhealthy foods at home. Three out of four parents say that their youngest child eats a packed lunch every day at school, and many agree that the packed lunch should be replaced with a school meal. The need to replace the packed lunch with a school meal is greatest among parents in the lowest income and education groups, and for parents who state that their children do not eat packed lunches daily at school. Parents think that it is largely the individual’s responsibility to eat healthy, but that the authorities are also responsible. Many parents agree that the authorities should use pricing instruments and that marketing and advertising of unhealthy food to children should be banned. Children and young people express both satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their own body and appearance. Adolescents, girls more often than boys, conduct a variety of beauty and body practices regularly. It is common among young people to avoid foods that are generally considered unhealthy.

The full report is only available in Norwegian.

What Affects Garment Lifespans? International Clothing Practices Based on a Wardrobe Survey in China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA

Kirsi Laitala and Ingun Grimstad Klepp

Abstract

Increasing the length of clothing lifespans is crucial for reducing the total environmental impacts. This article discusses which factors contribute to the length of garment lifespans by studying how long garments are used, how many times they are worn, and by how many users. The analysis is based on quantitative wardrobe survey data from China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. Variables were divided into four blocks related respectively to the garment, user, garment use, and clothing practices, and used in two hierarchical multiple regressions and two binary logistic regressions.

The models explain between 11% and 43% of the variation in clothing lifespans. The garment use block was most indicative for the number of wears, while garment related properties contribute most to variation in the number of users. For lifespans measured in years, all four aspects were almost equally important. Some aspects that affect the lifespans of clothing cannot be easily changed (e.g., the consumer’s income, nationality, and age) but they can be used to identify where different measures can have the largest benefits. Several of the other conditions that affect lifespans can be changed (e.g., garment price and attitudes towards fashion) through quality management, marketing strategies, information, and improved consumer policies.

Click here to read the full article (mdpi.com).

Environmental impacts associated with the production, use, and end-of-life of a woollen garment

S.G. Wiedemann, L. Biggs, B. Nebel, K. Bauch, K. Laitala, I.G. Klepp, P.G. Swan and K. Watson.

Abstract

Purpose

The textiles industry is a substantial contributor to environmental impacts through the production, processing, use, and end-of-life of garments. Wool is a high value, natural, and renewable fibre that is used to produce a wide range of garments, from active leisure wear to formal wear, and represents a small segment of the global fashion industry. Woollen garments are produced by long, global value chains extending from the production of ‘greasy’ wool on sheep farms, through processing to garment make-up, retail, consumer use, and end-of-life. To date, there have been limited life cycle assessment (LCA) studies on the environmental impacts of the full supply chain or use phase of garments, with the majority of wool LCA studies focusing on a segment of the supply chain. This study aimed to address this knowledge gap via a cradle-to-grave LCA of a woollen garment.

Methods

This study investigated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fossil fuel energy, and water stress associated with the production, use, and end-of-life of a lightweight woollen sweater (300-g wool), together with inventory results for freshwater consumption and land occupation. Primary datasets were used for the wool production and wool processing stages, while primary datasets relating to consumer garment use were supplemented with literature data. Impacts were calculated and reported per garment wear event.

Results and discussion

Impacts per wear were 0.17 (± 0.02) kg CO2-e GHG, 0.88 (± 0.18) MJ fossil energy, and 0.96 (± 0.42) H2O-e water stress. Fossil fuel energy was dominated by wool processing, with substantial contributions of energy also arising from retail and garment care. Greenhouse gas emissions from wool production (farming) contributed the highest proportion of impacts, followed by lower contributions from processing and garment care. Contributions to water stress varied less across the supply chain, with major contributions arising from production, processing, and garment use.

Conclusions

Opportunities to improve the efficiency of production, processing, and garment care exist, which could also reduce resource use and impacts from wool. However, the number of garment wear events and length of garment lifetime was found to be the most influential factor in determining garment impacts. This indicated that consumers have the largest capacity to influence the sustainability of their woollen garments by maximising the active garment lifespan which will reduce overall impacts.

Click here to read the full article (springer.com).

Klær og miljø: Innkjøp, gjenbruk og vask

Sammendrag

Rapporten diskuterer klesanskaffelser og vedlikehold i dagens Norge basert på en spørreundersøkelse om bærekraftig forbruk. Respondentene rapporterte at de hadde anskaffet i gjennomsnitt 23,5 plagg i løpet av det siste året. De yngste mennene 18-19 år og alle kvinner frem til 59 år anskaffer like mye klær. Menn anskaffer færre ettersom de ble eldre og de eldste over 60 år anskaffer minst. Kvinner derimot holder samme nivået, 28-29 plagg uavhengig av alder frem til den eldste aldersgruppen. Kvinnene over 60 år anskaffer noe mindre (totalt 20 plagg). De aller fleste (20,2 av 23,5) plagg kjøpes nye. Dette tilsvarer 86% av klærne. Det nest vanligste måten å skaffe klær er å få de som gaver med 2 plagg per person.

I gjennomsnitt er det mindre enn ett plagg per person som er kjøpt brukt (0,6), og tilsvarende mindre enn ett plagg som er arvet (0,7). Totalt utgjør dette 1,3 gjenbrukte plagg per respondent per år. De unge kvinnene mellom 18 og 29 år anskaffet størst andel av gjenbrukte klærne med 12%. Klesvask har stor påvirkning på miljøbelastning og utgjør en vesentlig faktor for klesforbrukets miljøbelastning totalt sett. Ikke overaskende og helt i tråd med tidligere undersøkelser vaskes det kroppsnære plagget trøye, oftere enn gensere, og ullgensere og ulltrøyer sjeldnere enn tilsvarende plagg i bomull. Forbrukere som er opptatt av miljø vasker sitt ulltøy sjeldnere enn andre. En tilsvarende sammenheng finnes ikke for bomull.

Klikk her for å lese hele rapporten (oda.oslomet.no).

Summary

This report discusses clothing acquisition and maintenance in Norway based on a survey on sustainable consumption. Respondents reported that they had acquired an average of 23.5 garments during the past year. The youngest men (18-29 years) and all women up to age 59 purchase the same amount of clothing. Men acquire fewer as they grow older and the oldest age group over 60 years acquire the least. Women, on the other hand, hold the same level, 28-29 garments regardless of age up to the oldest age group. The women over the age of 60 purchase somewhat less (a total of 20 garments). The vast majority (20.2 out of 23.5) garments are purchased new. This corresponds to 86% of the clothes. The next most common way to get clothes is to receive them as gifts, with 2 garments per person. On average, less than one garment per person is purchased used (0.6), and correspondingly less than one garment that is received as hand-me-down (0.7). In total, this represents 1.3 second-hand garments per respondent per year. The young women between the ages of 18 and 29 acquired the largest share of reused clothing by 12%. Laundry has a major influence on environmental impact and is a significant factor for overall environmental impact of clothing consumption. Not surprisingly and completely in line with previous research, the next-to-skin garments are washed more often than sweaters, and woolen undershirts and sweaters are washed less often than similar cotton garments. Consumers concerned about the environment wash their woolen clothes less frequently than others. A similar connection does not exist for laundering frequency of cotton.

The full report is only available in Norwegian.

Wardrobe sizes and clothing lifespans

Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Kirsi Laitala and Vilde Haugrønning

Abstract

It is easy to assume that a large wardrobe is characterized by excessive clothing and high acquisition, with little use of each garment and thus a big environmental impact. However, it is also possible to think the opposite; that the large wardrobe is a result of clothes remaining in use for a long time, that disposal happens rarely, while acquisition can be normal or even low. Whatever the reason, in a large wardrobe it is more likely that clothes become old before the technical life expires. This is because many of the garments are seldom used. Small wardrobes are often presented as favourable for both people and the environment, and as part of an ecological-friendly lifestyle, but we know little about the interaction between wardrobe sizes, longevity and the environmental impact.

In this paper, we investigate this relationship based on survey material from five countries; China, Germany, Japan, UK and the USA. We find that consumers with large wardrobes use their clothes longer, but consumers with small wardrobes use their clothes more often before they are disposed. We conclude that a good utilization of resources is possible with both large and small wardrobes, but in different ways. As we work towards more sustainable clothing consumption, we need to approach consumers differently, in order to give constructive advice to all.

This is a conference article from the 3rdPLATE 2019 Conference. Click here to find the full conference proceedings including this article (depositonce.tu-berlin.de).