One purpose with Suston’s “Sustainable Materials Guide” is to help retailers to respond to the most common customer questions. But how much can we really expect consumers to understand? EOG’s Verity Hardy responds.

 

Your expertise has been instrumental in preparing the Suston Sustainable Materials Guide. Why do you think there’s a need for the information in this guide?

While there is already a lot of information available on textile material sustainability, it can be difficult to know which of it is reliable and where to source credible data.

For example, many companies are keen to make green claims for marketing purposes. But these may be based purely on the positive sustainability aspects of a material rather than providing an accurate reflection of a material’s full sustainability profile.

 

Where are the largest knowledge gaps in terms of sustainable materials and the wider public?

Textile materials are much more complex than people believe and there are many different elements that contribute to the sustainability profile of a material. One of the largest knowledge gaps, I believe, relates to the true environmental impacts of raw material cultivation/extraction, fiber processing and fabric production. In other words, essentially everything that happens before a product is made.

Over the past few years there have been many innovations in both materials and modern production techniques: However, many of these are still in their infancy and proof of their sustainability credentials is not yet widely agreed upon.

 

How should the complexities of sourcing and supply chains be communicated to a non-expert audience, to help them make sustainable decisions?

This is a challenge! On the one hand, the complexities can be broken down into communicable topics, such as fair pay, working conditions and environmental management etc.

On the other hand, we perhaps shouldn’t expect non-experts to understand what can be incredibly complex global supply chains involving multiple stakeholders. Instead, it would be easier if consumers could focus on the brands and retailers, trusting that they are doing their due diligence in order to make responsible decisions, and encouraging transparency in this.

 

Photo: Andrii Yalanskyi/iStock

 

Jonathan Fraenkel-Eidse
jonathan.eidse@norragency.com
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