How The United Nations SDG12 Can Reduce The Effects Of Fast Fashion

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In this assignment I will address how the United Nations SDG12 may help to reduce the effects caused by fast fashion. I will focus on SDG12 which aims to improve responsible consumption, through educating the public on the effects of irresponsible consumption.

Fast fashion is the cheap production of low cost, low quality fashion for the western culture. The traditional seasons for clothing are not stuck too by fast fashion retailers like primary they have irregular season patterns. (OSMANSKI, 2019)

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The fashion industry has between 60 and 75 million employees worldwide covering all sectors including textile, clothing and footwear. (Kane, 2015) Therefore, the industry is a huge contributor to the global economy. As wealth is generated from employment people will reinvest their money into other areas of the economy worldwide. There are 890,000 people employed in the fashion industry in the UK, employment figures show that the fashion industry is also as large as the financial sector. This is due to the 1.8% increase in employment since 2016. (Unknown, 2018) Linking back to SDG12 the industry fuels consumption as more people have disposable income due to being employed they are more likely to purchase clothing items from fast fashion brands as they give an affordable stylist look. The fashion industry in the UK contributed £32.3bn to the economy in 2017 this is an increase of 5.4% on 2016. (Unknown, 2018) Therefore, this shows that people have the disposable income to spend on fashion items due to employment increase within the UK since 2016. The fashion industry in the UK had a 1.6% higher growth than the rest of the UK economy, again this may be down to the increase in employment. (Unknown, 2018)

In 2015 the United Nations designed a group realistic of global goals (Sustainable development goals) set out end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030 (Unknown, Unknown) These are inclusive goals which allow for governments to create positive change around the world.

I have chosen SDG12 which focuses upon responsible consumption and production, this goal is all about becoming more efficient with the way we consume and produce all goods. (Unknown, Unknown) I will focus on responsible consumption in the UK and how fast fashion dictates how we currently consume goods irresponsibly. In the UK we consume vast amount of clothing good without a second thought to where they come from, we also throw goods away without second thought this can be show as in 2018 the UK pumped 300,000 tonnes of goods into landfill or incineration. (Siegle, 2019)

Fast fashion directly impacts my SDG as in the UK we have an irresponsible consumption habits which is named ‘throwaway culture’. Throwaway culture in fashion is the need to buy new clothes when something breaks without trying repair the item. Fast Fashion brands dictate how we view clothing, the cheaper the item the more likely we view it as disposable compared to a higher value item which we take care of or will repair. (Butler, 2018) MPs have question that customer view fast fashion brand Primark’s £2 t-shirt as disposable, this directly impacts my SDG as people are more likely to sustain irresponsible consumption when pricing is so low. (Butler, 2018)

One of the ways in which to support SDG12 is by changing the fashion industry as a whole to become more ethically and environmentally conscious. This view is supported by Patagonia’s changing philosophy around responsibility when consuming. Patagonia’s worn wear website is where you can purchase previously loved good to reduce consumption, on their page you can also find that they have researched into what extending the life of a product can do “Keeping clothing in use just nine extra months can reduce the related carbon, water and waste footprints by 20-30%. (WRAP, 2012)” (Unknown, 2019)

Responsible consumption in fast fashion will lead to a decrease in water waste (the fast fashion industry directly contributes to 20% of worldwide wastewater (Unknown, 2018) showing how irresponsible consumption has an negative effect) this would be a direct effect of SDG12 if successful. Fast Fashion feeds off irresponsible consumption as this fuels companies to continue as they see huge profits, last year Primark saw their revenue increase to £7bn and operating profit to £843m (Morrison, 2018) this shows there is also over production not only irresponsible consumption. SDG12 would negatively affect the fast fashion industry as responsible consumption would drive down profits and the business model would fail, in turn having a negative effect upon the UK economy and worldwide economies.

Economics can be used to positively impact the consumption levels within the UK (based on Her Majesty’s Revenue and customs data in 2016 the UK consumed 1.13million tonnes of clothing (Unknown, 2017) this is irresponsible consumption) for example fiscal policies could introduced. By increasing taxation upon brand new goods this may deter consumer habits as the prices increase and on the other hand reducing taxation on second hand goods may also help to contribute to SDG12 as the items become cheaper. This also would boost local economies as across the UK there are second hand clothing stores, the demand for the items would increase therefore generating jobs locally rather than in LEDCs. Thus lowering the unemployment rate in the UK, changes in taxation would allow for responsible consumption to take effect within the UK. SDG12 has the potential to benefit the UKs own economy even if it has a negative effect upon the fast fashion industry.


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