17th October 2017 The world is making progress toward the goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 and boosting shared prosperity everywhere. By focusing our resources on three areas – promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, investing in human capital, and fostering resilience to shocks – and by measuring progress – we can get the rest of the way. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is set to do particularly well on eradicating poverty. Notably the region has been the most unequal globally, but reductions will count as some of the most impressive globally if present trends continue. According to recent study by Overseas Development Institute (2016) on progress on reaching SDGs by 2030, LAC region was evaluated as more than half-way to target in ending extreme poverty, SDG 1.1. By 2030, eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, currently measured as people living on less than US$1.25 a day. The region is set to make most of the progress needed to achieve this target by 2030. In fact, over half the countries in the region are on track to reduce extreme poverty by more than 80% if current trends continue. End Poverty Day presents the global community with an opportunity each year to focus on our goals and to work with government and citizens, civil society, private sector and development organizations to build support for the action needed to achieve those goals. We would like to take this opportunity and focus on poverty and textile industry:
Poverty and textile industry
The textile industry accounts for the major part of manufacturing production, employment, and trade in many developing countries. It is the typical “starter” industry for countries entering global trade. It is also very labour-intensive, where still in the industry the majority of manufacturing and finishing is still manufactured by workers, not assembled in production lines. It is also income relief for many poor people living in urban settlements, and people from rural areas seeking jobs in cities to offer living and job. Often the garment industry is seen to help to lift people from poverty, offering employment opportunities including entry-level jobs for unskilled labour and illegal workforce. Even the industry has proven to help developing countries take part to international business, and offer employment for people with low skills and in vulnerable status, saying yes to the question about the industry helping lift people from poverty is not that simple (See Gereffi 2002; Keane and Te Velde 2008).
At worst case, the textile industry is a continuum of exploitation, ranging from breach of labour standards such as unpaid overtime and non-payment of minimum wages – which not even always come close to living wage (see figure 1), a minimum amount of money for a family to come along and get sufficient nutrition. As with the minimum wage questions the poverty issues of this industry are related to urban poverty, it is also important to address rural poverty though the providers of raw materials such as natural fibre farmers. To address poverty, we must address the cause of poverty. In textile industry, that can be traced to 3 causes: subcontracting that burrs the production so that no-one needs to take responsibility; lack of international regulation and insufficient national policy measures – such as low and insufficient minimum wage regulations; and low payment for work and compensation for raw material providers.
Measures to be taken to eradicate poverty in fashion industry
To secure fair and just wages to provide at least a living wage and help to tackle poverty, strong policy measures are needed – and most importantly followed. Governments can set the absolute minimum by minimum wages, and companies can set code of conducts to secure just payment for their workers.
Implementation of international labour and human rights conventions securing the fundamental rights and standards at the national level is crucial. Vulnerable groups, including migrants, require particular attention to ensure that their rights are protected and working conditions improved. Transparency of the production chain is essential to be able to address poverty and to understand what kind of actions are needed at policy level, from companies, and from consumers. Some of the concrete actions helping to eradicate poverty are:
- Build long term, mutually trusting relationships with suppliers and work together to understand the drivers of prevailing wage levels and how they can be influenced
- Consult with workers/managers to calculate living wage levels for the area/industry
- Advocate for mechanisms to set national minimum wages that equate to living wages
- Ensure cost of living wages are accommodated throughout the value chain and if necessary in product price
- Improve workers’ collective bargaining power and ensure their right to freedom of association is respected.
- Incentivise employers to pay living wages eg. by increasing orders to those suppliers.
- Improve productivity and efficiency to enable the value chain to accommodate wage growth.
- Mitigate the impact of wage increases on unemployment or other unintended consequences in your supply chains.
- Join forces with sustainability initiatives, companies, NGOs and trade unions, to share lessons on working towards living wages.
- Take conscious, informed buying decisions.
Strengthening local production and economic development:
To address the question of rural poverty and economic development of these areas, some structural measures can be of help. These include:
Encourage self-driven growth and the economical development of rural areas, securing access to local market and businesses, as well as to international markets, for instance through regional industrial funds can guide and integrate resources, such as funds, technologies and talent, for investment in market entities in specific regions.
Funds and financing programmes on the other hand can improve employment opportunities for people in poverty and financial input in these areas, realizing poverty eradication in a fundamental way.
Strengthening local enterprises with training and providing easy access to national and international markets, agricultural policy programmes, cultivating and strengthening new business sectors in rural areas; promoting local sourcing, processing, transporting and other relating industries, to benefit the communities; and bolster regulated competition in rural industries. When it comes to society, endeavours can be made to optimize the investment environment and improve financing for small and medium businesses.
BACK TO THE BASICS:
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF FIBERS
Synthetic man made fibres – natural fibres – which is the most environmentally friendly alternative? This is not a simple question, so let’s break it down to the fine fibres.
Classification of fibres by Johnson & Johnson 2004
Understanding the impact of different fibres
All fibres have their environmental impact. Some are more water thirsty in the cultivation or production process, some require vast amount of water to make colour soak in to the fabric.
Cotton is notorious for the negative impacts for the environment: when grown in traditional means, it requires approximately 10 000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton, and tons of pesticides as it is highly vulnerable for bugs. Also, processing fibre to fabric requires vast amount of water, chemicals and energy to preparations and for dyeing process.
On the other hand, synthetic fibres like polyester are originated from petroleum, which is highly controversial subsistence both in ecological and social terms, and releases gases during production, that contribute to climate change. Polyester is a synthetic fibre found in 52% of our clothing, and most common material to mix with other fibres. Polyester is a plastic, in fact it is the same material, polyethylene terephthalate (PET), that is used to make plastic bottles (from oil). Synthetic fibres also are considered as a non-renewable fibre, because it will take millions of years for the earth’s oil reserves to replenish. Finally, when the clothes made out of polyester is washed, thousands of micro plastic particles are shed in the water supply, affecting ecosystems and marine life to the extent we barely know the tip of the iceberg. Micro plastic fibres make up 85% of the human-made material found on the world’s shorelines. With polyester production expected to increase from 40 million tons in 2010 to 70 million tons in 2030, this environmental problem will only continue to escalate.
In terms of energy, polyester uses the most energy at extraction with viscose (regenerated) being the most energy intensive in dyeing and finishing, topped with how 25% of chemicals used in agricultural processes are used for textile production.
The environmental comparison of fibre types are summarised in table elaborated by Natural Resources Defense Council (2012):
This overview affirms the environmental friendliness of the South American camelids, such as alpaca, llama and vicuña; positive impact on biodiversity – camelids help to prevent desertification; they have extremely low carbon footprint in comparison to other agricultural animals; and these fibres do not need pesticides or extra chemicals – they are sustainable by virtue.
Are there truly sustainable alternatives?
YES, there is! Preferring certain natural fibres, such as alpaca and llama, buying second hand clothes, buying clothes that will not go out of style and are made to last, and recycled materials. However, current techniques struggle with separating fibres from mixed fibres fabrics, and lots of fabrics cannot be recycled with current technologies. Luckily, technology is advancing and many big brands are putting big dollars to develop recycling technologies.
The most important thing is not to be fooled by green or recycled price tags and green-ish advertising campaigns: consumers need to ask the brand about their environmental procedures, and demand sustainable alternatives.
Hecho por Nosotros ON AIR @ Radio Presente
Sustainability in fashion, new way to think fashion, sustainable business models, artisan traditions.. these are just tip of the ice berg of topics we covered yesterday @ Radio Presente. Here is Facebook live from on air moments, tune in for full podcast next week!
WHO MADE MY CLOTHES – HERE ARE THE STORIES BEHIND LABELS
GARMENT WORKER DIARIES http://bit.ly/2xDlvgn
Garmet Worker Diaries is portraying the lives of garment workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia and India, covering worker’s earnings and expenditures, working conditions, daily work Schedule, well-being and major events that happened in their lives. This amazing project brings transparency to global clothes production, and helps to understand who is the person who made my clothes.
Garment Worker Diaries is a project of FASHION REVOLUTION movement. Project was led by NGO Microfinance Opportunities and funded by C&A Foundation.
12 SDGs of the fashion and textile industry
This Monday, the 25th of September, we celebrate the 2nd anniversary of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and that is why Hecho X Nosotros, a non-profit organization with a consultative status in the UN that is working to promote sustainability in the world of fashion, is going to relate the Agenda 2030 with fashion and textile industry. Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development was adopted by the members of UN in 2015. The 2030 Agenda is a broad and universal policy agenda with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000, the 2030 Agenda is more extensive, including some new areas of action and it aims to achieve inclusive, people-centred and sustainable development that leaves no one behind.
SDG 1 No Poverty is at the core of sustainable development. For example, it is interlinked to decent jobs, where decent, fair jobs provide better pay (SDG 8 Decent work and sustainable growth), and more disposable income to be used for better nutrition (SDG 2 Zero Hunger) which eventually improves health (SDG 3 Health and Well-Being). In textile industry can be traced 3 causes of poverty: subcontracting; lack of international regulation and insufficient national policy measures – such as low and insufficient minimum wage regulations; and low payment for work and compensation for raw material providers.
Moreover, the eradication of poverty and decent work is related to other two SDGs: SDG 4 Quality education and SDG 5 Gender equality. The garment industry is, and has historically been, one of the most female-dominated industries in the world, with the estimation of 85% of the workforce of the industry being women. For all these women working in fashion industry, development is closely linked to their conditions at work. When the women move out of poverty, they are able to provide children with education and nutrition, and to become more independent and grow as an individual. It’s about dignity and ability to support themselves and the family, through economic empowerment. The economic empowerment of women reduce the inequalities between women and men and the sustainable fibre production reduces the inequalities among regions and countries (SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities).
On other hand, the fashion industry has several negative effects on water in terms of consumption and pollution which directly affects human and animal health. In the fashion industry, water is used at every stage with the vast majority of its pollution occurring during raw material production, notably in cotton cultivation, and raw material processing. For every pound of textile produced, roughly a pound of chemicals is required. The volume of water consumed by the apparel world is nearly 79 billion cubic meters, enough to fill nearly 32 million Olympic size swimming pools. To take this to the minimal level, a pair of jeans, taking Levi brand as an example, uses 3,781 litres of water in its full lifecycle – from growing cotton, through manufacturing, consumer care at home and end of life disposal.
Sustainable production of natural fibres, as can be organic cotton or camelid fibres, does not involve pesticide usage and decreases the amount of water that is used. Thus, the sustainable production of natural fibres (plant or animal fibres) preserves clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), life on land (SDG 15), and protects against climate change (SDG 13). When producing organic cotton, the soil maintains its nutritions because pesticides are avoided and natural ecosystem is preserved. The Latin American camelids have hooves that are softly padded which reduces the environmental impact on soil and they have very effective eating and drinking habits than other grazing animals. The fact that the animals are not harmed during the shearing process means that they are highly sustainable. The sustainable management of guanacos in the Patagonia region can reverse desertification problems caused by sheep breeding and over-population that is highly unsustainable.
Achieving economic growth and sustainable development requires that we urgently reduce our ecological footprint by changing the way we produce and consume goods and resources. Encouraging industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste is equally important (SDG 12 Responsible production and Consumption), as is supporting developing countries to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption by 2030 and creating partnership among countries (SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals). Current fashion model focuses on a buy – use – dispose or take-make -waste approach, from a consumer and producer view respectively. This is the so called “fast fashion” cycle. It is time to rethink this model in a circular way (following the circular economy model), understanding it not only from a recycle standpoint, but on a waste minimization throughout the full supply chain.
EVENT: FORO CYTED South American Camelids Production Chain Innovations
What is the current situation of South American Camelids? How to develop value chain of these camelids? What is the relationship between economic development and camelids? This forum is a gathering of experts from various fields to explore this theme.
Join us at II Forum CYTED IBEROEKA discussing South American Camelids Production Chain Innovations, organised in October 5th to 7th Mar del Plata, Argentina.