World's Largest Fashion Sustainability Summit to Drive Responsible Innovation
More than a thousand experts, NGOs, opinion makers, media and politicians gather Thursday for the Copenhagen Fashion Summit—the world's largest event on sustainability in fashion. Jonas Eder-Hansen is development director at the Danish Fashion Institute and organizer of the summit. We asked him some questions about the big event and the state and future of sustainability in fashion.
Q. This is the fourth Copenhagen Fashion Summit. What is special about this one?
Jonas Eder-Hansen: We have come a very long way! We have a lot more decision-makers among the participants now and they come from very different positions in fashion companies, representing everything from design and material sourcing to sales and marketing. International participants are up from around 40 percent in 2014 to more than 60 percent this time. In short, I think the summit finally has been able to attract more from the "mainstream" fashion community, not just the sustainability experts.
Q. This year's theme at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit is "responsible innovation." What does that concept mean to you?
Jonas Eder-Hansen: We work in one of the world's largest industries but also one of the most resource-intensive. As an industry we have to develop new business models and solutions that can solve the massive challenges we face. The world needs innovators who can lead the push towards a more sustainable economy. The fashion industry has the potential to be one such innovator, working proactively to address critical environmental, social and ethical challenges on a global scale.
Q. Many fast fashion representatives are attending the summit such as H&M, Adidas and Diesel. How can these big companies become more sustainable when their business models depend on people buying more clothes more frequently?
Jonas Eder-Hansen: The large brands and retailers are built on a linear economy in which we extract, process, consume and dispose. This is the foundation of modern society not just the fashion industry. It cannot change overnight, but the fashion industry is definitely moving towards a more circular economy. H&M's vision, for example, is 100 percent circularity. In 2015, some 1.3 million of its clothing were made with closed loop material—more than 300 percent compared to 2014. A company like H&M is well aware of the challenges and are committed to use its size and scale to become fully circular.
Q. So is the fashion industry, in general, ready to take a leap into a circular economy?
Jonas Eder-Hansen: We have to! According to studies from Ellen MacArthur Foundation there even is a major business opportunity here. Many brands and retailers are testing various take-back models and investing in recycling technologies, while governments and local authorities are piloting voluntary extended producer responsibility schemes. We are still far from a perfect solution, but the right actors are giving it so much attention that I really think we can succeed.
Q. One of the most inspirational speeches from last summit was Vanessa Friedman's presentation of the idea "sustainable wardrobe" in which we carefully select clothes that will stay with us for a long time. What are your thoughts on this? Is a sustainable wardrobe irreconcilable with the prosperity of the fashion industry?
Jonas Eder-Hansen: Not at all—I think there are a lot of companies already focused on craftsmanship, quality and sustainability who at the same time sell their products at a premium and have a very healthy revenue model. Yet, much more can be done from the industry to engage in a dialogue with consumers about the wear and care of their garments. This could lead to increased customer loyalty and brand building for companies. From a consumer perspective, we have probably become a bit too lazy to think about how we care for our clothes in a smarter way, such as washing in cold water, line drying instead of tumble drying etc. I think consumers could learn more about "wardrobe stewardship" to make their garments last longer.
Q. The Danish minister for foreign affairs is on the guest list for the summit along with other political figures. What role do politicians play in making the fashion industry more sustainable?
Jonas Eder-Hansen: There is so much governments can do. A few examples include: 1. integration of sustainable fashion curriculum into primary, secondary, university and vocational education and research, 2. standardization of product transparency disclosures and driving of consolidation of ecolabel(s) for fashion products and 3. exploration and testing of economic incentives (such as tariffs, deposits, etc.) to internalize social and environmental costs of consumption and production.
Q. What do you want people to take home with them after the summit?
Jonas Eder-Hansen: That we are on the right track towards a more sustainable fashion industry and that Copenhagen is the central place to discuss ambitions and visions for how we get there quicker.
Copenhagen Fashion Summit takes place May 12 at the Copenhagen Concert Hall with speakers such as H&M's Head of Sustainability Anna Gedda, founder & creative director at Eco Age Ltd. Livia Firth and EU commissioner for industry, Elzbieta Bienkowska. Learn more on copenhagenfashionsummit.com and follow the event on the summit's Facebook page.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
The Poison Papers: Secret Concerns of Industry and Regulators on the Hazards of Pesticides and Other Chemicals
The Bioscience Resource Project and the Center for Media and Democracy released a trove of rediscovered and newly digitized chemical industry and regulatory agency documents Wednesday stretching back to the 1920s. The documents are available here.
Together, the papers show that both industry and regulators understood the extraordinary toxicity of many chemical products and worked together to conceal this information from the public and the press. These papers will transform our understanding of the hazards posed by certain chemicals on the market and the fraudulence of some of the regulatory processes relied upon to protect human health and the environment.
I'm a huge Trevor Hall fan so when I saw he was playing in my hometown of Cleveland, I was stoked. I knew seeing the show would be fantastic, but I was also thinking an interview with Trevor would be something really cool to give EcoWatch readers. So, lucky enough, I was offered an interview and was able to hop on my paddleboard from Whiskey Island on the shore of Lake Erie, head up the Cuyahoga River and get to the Music Box Supper Club just in time to chat with Trevor before the show.
"My dad was a drummer, so most my musical influence comes from my dad," Trevor said during our nearly hour interview. "Growing up, my dad had this CD collection in the hallway and I was always fascinated by all the CDs. My hobby was pulling out a CD that looked cool and I'd put it on the stereo and pretend I was rocking out. My dad was really into The Doobie Brothers, Allman Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, Simply Red, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young."
American Electric Power (AEP) will invest $4.5 billion in a wind energy project in Oklahoma that could become the largest wind farm in the U.S., the utility announced Wednesday.
AEP will develop a 350-mile transmission line for the 2 GW farm.
The sun is rising on a newer, cleaner era of American energy use.
The U.S. generates nearly eight times as much electricity from the sun and the wind than it did in 2007—enough to power more than 25 million homes—and the average American uses 10 percent less energy than he or she did 10 years ago, according to a new report by Environment America Research and Policy Center.
The report, Renewables on the Rise: A Decade of Progress Toward a Clean Energy Future, also cites a 20-fold increase in battery storage of electricity and the meteoric rise in sales of electric cars—from virtually none in 2007 to nearly 160,000 last year—as evidence that despite attempted rollbacks in Washington, a clean energy revolution is under way across the U.S.
By Tim Radford
Geoengineering, the deliberate alteration of the planet to undo its inadvertent alteration by humans over the past 200 years, is back on the scientific agenda, with a climate compromise suggested as a possible solution.
One group wants to turn down the global thermostat and reverse the global warming trend set in train by greenhouse gases released by fossil fuel combustion, by thinning the almost invisible cirrus clouds that trap radiation and keep the planet warm.
By Joe McCarthy
This past June was the third hottest June in recorded history—only 2016 and 2015 had hotter Junes.
The global average temperature has been surpassing the 20th century average for 41 straight years. "Record-breaking temperatures" has almost become a platitude since the turn of the century, yet the consequences of this shift are devastating communities and environments in new ways around the world.
By Joe McCarthy
Tony Maphosa, a Zimbabwean poacher, is accused of putting cyanide in watering holes and salt pans used by elephants numerous times over several years.
All told, his poisoning spree is said to have killed more than 100 elephants, according to Zimbabwean authorities who have been searching for Maphosa for four years.
By David Doniger
As the nation and the world swelter through another year of extraordinary heat, storms, drought and disrupted weather, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Brian Schatz introduced carbon fee legislation Wednesday to help curb the heat-trapping pollution that drives this dangerous climate disruption.
Representatives Earl Blumenauer and David Cicilline are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.