Challenges of Environmental and SocialResponsibility in the Fashion Industry

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper


The purpose of the thesis is to reveal and address macro-environmental sustainability problems in thefashion industry. A qualitative research approach was used to reach the purpose. Throughout the empirics, theexisting literature was studied, and two case studies were carried out. The one about Hennes and Mauritz isbased on secondary data by using its sustainability report, and in the other case, primary data were obtainedabout Ekovaruhuset, an ecological fashion company, through a face-to-face interview. It was found that thefashion industry has a significant environmental impact and often violates the fair labour practices throughout itssupply chain. The root causes of the unsustainable operation are the labour-intensity, water and chemicalintensity throughout the fashion supply chain, and the lack of political and legal regulations in the producingcountries. These problems can be addressed by careful sourcing, and higher control over the cotton growers,fabric mills and suppliers. In addition, using and developing eco-friendly raw materials, like organic cotton, andfabrics reduce the environmental impact. It can be concluded that there is much room for sustainabledevelopment in the fashion industry, but there are corporate social and environmental responsibility endeavoursfrom both small and big companies.

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