WAKEFIELD – Today’s podcast features Linda Greer, Senior Scientist at the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) who joins Mike Schragger online from her office in Washington, D.C. to hear about her initial ideas on creating a climate roadmap for apparel and how current thinking on transparency and circularity are not good enough.
In this wide-ranging interview, listeners hear that Greer does remain optimistic about the environmental prospects for our industry, but only if it can address some serious, industry-wide problems that will necessitate a complete change of mind-set.
Saying she’s buoyed by a sector that is ready to move forward on environmental improvements, and is “sitting up straight with its ears pricked forward,” she singles out organisations like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Outdoor Industry Association as progressive groups that are “unusually good, because they have a ‘can do’ attitude to pressing their members for results – because standard trade associations still don’t do that kind of thing.”
Yet Greer laments what she calls the “looming execution gap”, where companies publicly say they are making environmental progress, but in reality, she says, very little is still being done on the ground.
She also outlines four key areas where retailers and brands should help their suppliers to reduce their impact on climate change – a growing requirement in the industry and one that is also tied to the new fashion sector charter to reduce climate change that will be launched in December 2018 at COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
Known for her robust thinking and forthright views as an independent voice in the industry, Greer also turns her attention to the issue of transparency – or lack of it – that still plagues apparel supply chains today.
But she says the toughest nut to crack will be the problem of over-production and over-consumption. Here, it’s important for listeners to understand there are problems with current efforts to make the supply chains circular, she says. “The problem with the current definition of circularity is that it only reduces the impacts of the production of virgin natural or synthetic fibres – not the impacts of production,” such as spinning, knitting, scouring, rinsing, bleaching and all the other production steps which will still be necessary.
“The future of the fast fashion problem is NOT circularity,” she asserts.
This lengthy interview with Linda Greer is full of nuanced opinions and advice for sustainability change agents, so pour yourself a cup of tea, turn off your alerts, and enjoy this brain candy.