Impacts of the Fashion Industry: A Review of Sustainability Frameworks and Holistic Tools to Accelerate Positive Environmental Change, Megan Meiklejohn

There is great momentum in the fashion industry to accelerate positive environmental change. This drive has placed internal and external pressures on brands to show continuous progress, making them eager for data to measure, report, and prove they are contributing to reduced emissions and minimized environmental impacts. Brands often rely on life cycle assessment data to measure environmental impact; however, this review will show that there are challenges when applying the life cycle assessment framework to natural systems. The industry needs to better understand these challenges and the potential unintended consequences that can result when using the data to report on impact and make sustainability-based sourcing and design decisions. If life cycle assessment is not the best tool for fashion brands to assess impact, then what are the other holistic frameworks available to the industry? One methodology that is explored takes a different approach is Ecological Outcome Verification which prioritizes indicators of ecosystem functioning. The research for this review of data usage by the fashion industry uses a mix-methods approach, surveying and interviewing sustainability practitioners to understand how widely the available frameworks are utilized, to gain insight into how the practitioners use the data for impact measurement, and their opinions about the data accuracy and adequacy for their brand.

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