Ethical and Sustainable Fashion

About me

I am Tarek Khan from Bangladesh. I am studying in Fashion Management and Marketing at De Montfort University, Leicester. I have completed my Bachelor of Science in Textile Engineering from Daffodil International University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. After completing my bachelor degree, I had worked as a production executive. I belong to such a country, which is famous for its textile sector all over the world. Bangladesh has a leading contribution and role in the garment sector of the world. The country has a considerable sustainability in its garment industry because of an increased demand for the garment products that it exports across the world (Mostafa and Klepper, 2017). Garment sector of Bangladesh being leading sector not only in its own premises, but also all over the world faces the challenges of sustainability.

Although the future predictions made by Parvez et al. (2017) regarding the garment sector of Bangladesh have motivated me to say that the sector has scope in the future, the problems exist still. On one side, the garment sector provides an employment of around 16% to the entire workforce, but on the other side, this sector is known for key challenges as well. One of the key challenges, I have learned from my experience and studies of (Chowdhury, Hamada, and Ahmed, 2017; Hossain, Sarker, and Khan, 2018) The textile sector of the country is on the eve of threats to its sustainability. The low wage rate is one of the key challenges raised by the workers in this particular industry.

Workers Blockage
Source: https://www.rt.com/news/bangladesh-garment-workers-wages-198/

The picture given above reveals the situation of workers in the garment sector of Bangladesh. Since the workers are facing challenges of wage rates against their minimum, living allowances (Hossain, Sarker, and Khan, 2018). Hence, the payment or salaries paid to the workers are not inline with the increasing inflations and daily consumption and expenses of the worker. I have also perceived and other challenge that poses a threat to the textile sector as well as the fashion sector of the country, which is the forced labour and child labour. Instead of intervention of human rights organizations and work rights’ preserving organizations, legislations etc. the workers are dealing with key challenges. As the picture given above presents the condition of workforce in the country. As the United Nations Organizations restrict the prevalence of minimum wage rates but it is yet practice in the garment industry of the country.

In addition to the above issues in the garment industry, the abuse both physical and verbal, health and safety hazards, poor women’s rights and restricted freedom of association are the apparently speaking issues against the sustainability of garment sector. Hence, I am concluding that the garment sector of Bangladesh exposed to great level of threats therefore, it can be challenge by human rights organisations, which can impede and sue the employers in this particular sector. In addition, I aim to bring improvement in the garment sector through this blog and provide more clarity of the issues I have learned and understood. There are Green Factories like Plamy fashion, Envoy Textile, Remi Holdings etc. that should consider the ethics and employment rights when dealing with the workers.

Corporate strategy case study on Next Plc

Next Plc’s is one of the leading fashion companies in the world, which has been focussing on the development of effective corporate social responsibility. Meanawhile, Ecodesign can be defined as an approach that allows designing the products with special consideration (Nextplc.co.uk/, 2018). These special considerations are attribute towards the environmental impacts of the product during its entire course of life. The company is also using different strategies in order to reduce the negative impacts of the lifecyle of its products on the environment. In addition to that (Gui et al., 2018), Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) was defined by the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) in 1997 as ‘The rule, which both importers and manufacturers of services and products need to consider. This principle reflects the responsibility towards the environmental impacts of the products.

eco-friendly-print-logo

Source: http://www.hotink.co.za/blog/

As per the review of above picture posted on the hotink blog, it is apparent that the company should use the eco-friendly aspects when developing the lifecycle of it is the products. The life cycle assessment requires the company has to concentrate on its, manufacturing procurement and disposal practices. Therefore, Next Plc. acquires the raw materials that have positive impact on the environment or even that have a less likely potential to negative affect the environment (Park et al., 2018). Likewise, the climate change is a major challenge for Next Plc. as it requires the company to make improvements in its overall process.

Increase in the climate issues and concerns raised by the environmental protectionists, it has become necessary to review the impact of activities of an organization on the environment. Next Plc. has put the sustainable innovation in practice as the company focuses on the recycling approaches in its manufacturing and transportation aspects (Park et al., 2018). In addition, the financial reports of the company have shown that it is spending the environment protecting activities called the CSR practices. The CSR is full-formed as Corporate Social Responsibilities, which is adopt by the company. The last year (2017) expense of Next Plc. on the environmental protecting measures was £0.9bn (Nextplc.co.uk, 2018). In addition, the issue of toxicity is the climatic aspect for the environmental protection.

As it refers to the acid rain, which involves the emissions of sulphur compound and develop the sulphuric acid. The development of sulphuric acid by Next Plc. Contributes damage the ecosystem of the universe. Farajzadeh, Zhu, and Bakhshoodeh (2017) argued that there is evidence regarding the acidification for textiles because this industry involves the emissions of substances that are harmful for the environment. As per Farajzadeh et al., (2017), the implications in Fashion and Textiles aspects of the garment sector revealed that there is 0.011553 kg SO2/ kg cottonseeds available in conventional cotton. However, the organic cotton is involves 0.006783 kg, which majorly from the fossil fuel consumption the increasing production and manufacturing of cotton in the world (Funk et al., 2017).

In addition to this, the green positioning can be considered as an important corporate social responsibility for Next Plc. This strategy is used to present a differentiated brand image amongst the targeted audiences. As per this strategy, Next Plc. presents the Eco-Friendly Weddings, which indicates the positive image for its operations. Apart from that, slow fashion has also been considered to be the emerging themes that can be put in practice in order to control the negative impact of garment sector on the environment (Federici, 2017). The decrease in the fashion can result in decrease in the overall production and manufacturing of such fashion-related products that involve the release of toxic substances, which damage the layer ozone as presented in the picture below:

ozone-hole-1-1024x633

Source: https://byjus.com/biology/ozone-layer-hole/

Transparency and accountability have been considered to be the determinants of modern corporate social responsibility theory. The companies now are required to ensure their engagement will all of their stakeholders, which include employees (Federici, 2017), community, society as well as the environment (Egbon et al., 2017). The CSR responsibilities for Next Plc include confidentiality of the information of suppliers and its customers. Thompson, and McLarney, (2017) stated that Next Plc. is has a fair business practice against its competitors because it does not include any aspect that could provide harm to its competitor. It means that the company does not target or include its competitors when making the marketing strategies as it applies the ethical principles for the marketing.

As the main ethical principle of marketing adopted by the company is to make green marketing and involve in green practices (Egbon et al., 2017). Thompson, and McLarney, (2017) stated that the green practices as well as green products have enhanced the brand image of Next Plc. in the fashion world. The key ethics adopted by the company is that it is offering the confidentiality to its stakeholders, which is one of the major determinant modern CSR (Thompson, and McLarney, 2017). Activities that lead to threat to the stakeholders are considered to be unethical. For example, polluting the environment through the productions and release of harmful substances by Next Plc. can be called an unethical practice. The modern strategy of Next Plc. that speaks of green practices is likely to positively impact the social communities.

biodiversity-1-1

Source: http://eco-globe.com/general-meaning-of-biodiversity/

As we have given above picture regarding the biodiversity, which presents a variety of animals and our environment. The biodiversity, according to Weber (2017), is the variety of animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, and is highly important to be maintained. However, biodiversity management practices, as part of the CSR practices of Next Plc. are the determinants of pleasant environment (Weber, 2017). The biodiversity practices have a positive on the social life of human. Even the people can be exposed to an experience of pleasant environment surrounding them (Kottawa-Arachchi, and Wijeratne, 2017). Hence, we can say that these are the major factors, which are either being considered in the CSR strategy of Next Plc. or should be considered by the company. In order to maintain a sustainable eco-system, Next Plc needs to address the different aspects of environment as part of its strategies.

Analysis of an ethical issue (Child labour) from an historical context

Zavella (2018) presented a challenge that poses a threat to the textile sector as well as the fashion sector of the world, which is the child labour. Instead of intervention of human rights organizations and work rights’ preserving organizations, legislations etc. the children are working the fashion and textile sector. Child labour has been restricted as per the historical legislations that have been passed by the different autonomous bodies in the world. It is important to understand the concept of child labour before investigating this particular ethical issue in an historical context (Zavella, 2018). Rahikainen (2017) defined the child labour as the workers, who may or may not be paid for their efforts and are under the age limit of 15 years. Likewise, the child labour has also been defined as a labour in which the children are exploited by the companies at fair or unfair rates of employment.

In addition to that the estimates made by an international organization named as International Labour Organization (ILO), have shown that there are more than 218 million children in the world (Rahikainen, 2017). Whereas, this number of children was lesser in the 2016 and now has raised with a percentage of 6% and most of the children are termed to be as workers or child labour in the under-developing countries in the world (Posthuma, and Rossi, 2017). Kottawa-Arachchi, and Wijeratne, (2017) stated that the condition of workforce in the represents the children as well. As the United Nations Organizations restrict the prevalence of child-labour but it is yet practice in the garment industry of the country.

The review of the history of child labour in the fashion industry reveals that it has started prevailing since the 19th century. As in 1924, Congress was the first organization that presented a legislation to restrict the child labour in the U.S. Hence, a constitutional amendment had made in order to provide clear instructions to the companies to avoid employing children. Apart from the historical context, Posthuma, and Rossi, (2017) stated that there have been certain reasons for child labour in the world. These reasons are oriented from both sides called communities and employers. The families as a result of increased level of poverty leave their children to work in the industries, whereas, the employers in order to provided minimum wage rates employ the children.

In addition to this aspect, the historical context of Bangladesh also presents that there has been increased child labour issue in the fashion sector since the independence of country (Swepston, 2017). The economy of Bangladesh has been increasingly relying on the fashion sector as well as the garment sector and therefore, there has been the deployment of child labour as well. In the same way, boundaries about the compensation or reward in the act called Labour Standards Act 1938 passed by Congress were put in practices. As per this act the children were considered who were under the age of 16 years (Swepston, 2017).

In the same way, workers having 18 year age were considered to be adults and workers but the act restricted the employers to employ the workers of this age for heavy and complex operations. It means that they were restricted of the functions that my be difficult for the workers who are under the age bracket of 18 years. Likewise, the modern thoughts of ethical issues such as child labour reveal that certain changes have been made. These changes are made to bring improvements in the overall system of labour forces.

1Source: https://www.history.com/topics/child-labor

The above image has been taken from the history of child labour blog, which indicates that major brands of fashion for the pursuit of cheap labour costs are often involved in relocating their production plants within the underdeveloped countries in the word. It means that they locate their factories and operations in the third and second world countries, where they are easily to obtain children as labour force with cheaper costs (Smith, 2018). Besides this, the modern research regarding the ethical issue of child labour says that the families of underprivileged children send their children to the workplaces. Although the families know the working conditions, quality of working environment and the value of what their children are paid, the poverty forces them to do so yet. In addition to this, Smith (2018) argued that child fashion employees are not only required to perform their tasks low standard working conditions but they are also impeded of their basic right called the education.

2

Source: http://blog.letseduvate.com/advikamathuroisj5a/child-labour-35/

The above picture has been taken from the website of Advikamathuroisj5a, which presents the resistance towards the child labour. On the basis of this picture, it is depicted modern research and trends are paying a closer attention towards preventing the children from labour. Hence, more attention has been paid to engage the children in the education. Since the education is considered to be the fundamental right, which is restricted by the modern employers as the children are going to companies rather than going to schools (Okonkwo, 2018). It is the negative picture of our society, which needs attention because the children have right to access their expenses from families. But due to increased level of poverty in the second and third world, countries, the families are sending their children to workplaces. In a similar way, another picture has been presented.

3

Source: https://www.trustedclothes.com/blog/2016/02/09/slow-down-fast-fashion-has-harmful-effects/

The children are also facing the wage rate issues as the picture given above, which has been derived from Trustedclothes.com (2016) indicates a gap in the wage and price of the fashion product (Okonkwo, 2018). On one side, the children are producing a product at the rate of $0.60, which is sold at a price of $50, which is a very large gap. The children are paid very less rates, which is a major ethical issue in the contemporary world. Hence, we can say that legislations put in place have not addressed the issue of child labour in the contemporary world.

UN Sustainable development Goals: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Marks and Spencer and Next Plc. are the major companies in the fashion sector in the world. On the other side, the United Nations have set parameters to develop a sustainable world. For this regard, the Goal 9: has been implemented, as per which the firms have to promote sustainable development, develop resilient infrastructure and adopt the innovation. Hence, the investments in the infrastructure are to be made so that the negative impact on the ecosystem could be minimised (Biermann, Kanie, and Kim, 2017). Bingham, and Druker (2017) mentioned that Marks and Spencer make investment in the community development projects. In a similar way, the green marketing and green product offerings have been noted for Next Plc. which is a giant fashion organisation. In addition, to that, the UNs clause requires to ensure the presence of safety and health hazards.

These companies also ensure the prevalence of health and safety hazards by providing proper working dresses and environments (Bingham, and Druker, 2017). Katamba, and Akora (2017) stated that the sustainable development goals set out by the United Nations are aimed to bring improvement in the living standards of community in addition to the living standards of those who are working in the organisation. In this regard, the health and safety concern have been seen very closely in both Next Plc and Marks and Spencer. As these companies tend to implement the environmental friendly practices. Likewise, Next Plc is establishing the green marketing approaches and as per these approaches it gives the realisation to the consumers that it is closely caring the environmental concerns. However, Marks and Spencer involves the community development programs and innovation programs in order to develop such methods and techniques through which waste could be minimised. Bingham, and Druker (2017) suggested that companies should focus on recycling strategies in order to ensure the prevalence of market friendly practices.

Conclusion and reflection

It is concluded that I have learned a number of concepts regarding the key aspects included in the blog post assignment. In addition, introduction section allowed me learning how to introduce oneself in accordance with the key challenges and issues in the industry, which was taken in this assignment. Besides this, I was able to learn about the key ethical issues faced by the children in the fashion worlds. The children are also facing the wage rate issues in terms of a gap in the wage and price of the fashion product. I was able to learn that the child labour is a labour in which the children are exploited by the companies at fair or unfair rates of employment. In addition to that, the projections made by ILO have shown that there are more than 218 million children in the world.

Whereas, this number of children was lesser in the 2016 and now has increased with a percentage of 6% and most of the children are termed to be as employees or child labour in the under-developing countries in the world. I was able to learn that the issue of toxicity is the climatic aspect for the environmental protection in the world. As it referred to the acid rain that involves the emissions of sulphur compound and develop the sulphuric acids. The development of sulphuric acid by Next Plc. contributes damage the ecosystem of the world. Moreover, I think I have learn a considerable volume of knowledge regarding the key concepts of CSR and the responses of companies towards the environment in the context of fashion sector. The ethics is very important aspect in this regard and therefore, needs to be addressed in order to ensure that the operations in the fashion sector are transparent and polite.

References

Biermann, F., Kanie, N. and Kim, R.E., 2017. Global governance by goal-setting: the novel approach of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 26, pp.26-31.

Bingham, C. and Druker, J., 2017. Acting With Integrity Across The World’? What Do Multinationals Say About Labour Standards?.

Chowdhury, S., Hamada, Y. and Ahmed, K.S., 2017. Prediction and comparison of monthly indoor heat stress (WBGT and PHS) for RMG production spaces in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Sustainable Cities and Society, 29, pp.41-57.

Egbon, O., Idemudia, U. and Amaeshi, K., 2017. Shell Nigeria’s Global Memorandum of Understanding and corporate-community accountability relations: a critical appraisal. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, (just-accepted), pp.00-00.

Farajzadeh, Z., Zhu, X. and Bakhshoodeh, M., 2017. Trade reform in Iran for accession to the World Trade Organization: Analysis of welfare and environmental impacts. Economic Modelling, 63, pp.75-85.

Federici, M., 2017. Smart grid: from an isolated, passive and centralized production, management and distribution of energy, to an integrated, active and decentralized one.

Funk, P.A., Hardin IV, R.G. and Terrazas, A.A., 2017. Cotton Gin Drying Systems–Patterns in Fuel Energy Use. In 2017 ASABE Annual International Meeting (p. 1). American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Gui, L., Atasu, A., Ergun, Ö. and Toktay, L.B., 2018. Design Incentives Under Collective Extended Producer Responsibility: A Network Perspective. Management Science.

Hossain, L., Sarker, S.K. and Khan, M.S., 2018. Evaluation of Present and Future Wastewater Impacts of Textile Dyeing Industries in Bangladesh. Environmental Development.

Katamba, D. and Akora, M.E., 2017. Corporate Social Responsibility Implementation-Lessons from Uganda. Makerere Business Journal, 13(1), pp.47-69.

Kottawa-Arachchi, J.D. and Wijeratne, M.A., 2017. CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEMS IN SRI LANKA: A REVIEW. Nature Conservation Research, 2(3), pp.2-22.

Mostafa, R. and Klepper, S., 2017. Industrial development through tacit knowledge seeding: evidence from the Bangladesh garment industry. Management Science.

Nextplc.co.uk/, 2018. Information and overview of the company.

Okonkwo, P.O., 2018. Application of treaties in Nigeria vis-à-vis the instruments of the international labour organisation. Nnamdi Azikiwe University Journal of International Law and Jurisprudence, 9(2), pp.149-157.

Park, J., Posada, N.D. and Dugand, S.M., 2018. Challenges in implementing the extended producer responsibility in an emerging economy: the end-of-life tire management in Colombia. Journal of Cleaner Production.

Parvez, M.H., Khatun, M.M., Reza, S.M., Rahman, M.M. and Patwary, M.F.K., 2017. Prediction of Potential Future IT Personnel in Bangladesh using Machine Learning Classifier. Global Disclosure of Economics and Business, 6(1), pp.7-18.

Posthuma, A. and Rossi, A., 2017. Coordinated governance in global value chains: supranational dynamics and the role of the International Labour Organization. New Political Economy, 22(2), pp.186-202.

Rahikainen, M., 2017. Centuries of child labour: European experiences from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. Taylor & Francis.

Smith, R., 2018. International Human Rights Law. Oxford University Press.

Swepston, L., 2017. The International Labour Organization’s system of human rights protection. In Human Rights: International Protection, Monitoring, Enforcement (pp. 91-109). Routledge.

Thompson, J. and McLarney, C., 2017. What effects will the strategy changes undertaken by next Plc have on themselves and their competition in the UK Clothing Retail Market?. Journal of Commerce and Management Thought, 8(2), p.234.

Weber, E., 2017. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. CABI.

Zavella, P., 2018. Feminist insider dilemmas: Constructing ethnic identity with Chicana informants. In Feminist dilemmas in fieldwork (pp. 138-159). Routledge.

 

 

 

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