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Special Issue "Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2020) | Viewed by 30128

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Kirsi Laitala
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Senior Researcher, Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), OsloMet—Oslo Metropolitan University, P.O. Box 4 St. Olavs plass, 0130 Oslo, Norway
Interests: environment, apparel, textiles, consumer behavior, sustainable consumption, clothing consumption, textile maintenance, laundry

Special Issue Information

Clothing is an essential part of our daily lives that contributes to physical and psychosocial well-being. However, clothing production and consumption has increased to a level that has a severe negative impact on the environment. The industry is now one of the most polluting in the world, with a direct negative impact on water, soil, and air, in addition to having major ethical challenges [1–3]. It is estimated that clothing production and consumption now constitutes 3–6.7% of global carbon dioxide emissions [4,5].

Consumers can reduce their negative environmental contribution through various strategies in different consumption phases, from acquisition through use and care to disposal [6,7]. The most effective measure is to reduce consumption levels [8]. The aim of this thematic issue is to get more knowledge on topics that affect clothing lifespans and use including the technical and social aspects, which factors contribute to these, and how to change consumption patterns so that significant reductions can be achieved.

For reducing the total volume of clothing consumption, strategies such as prolonging clothing lifespans, and using collaborative consumption principles e.g. sharing can contribute to decreasing personal wardrobe sizes [9–13]. Reuse, repair, and repurposing are examples of tools that consumers may use for this purpose [14,15]. Several design strategies have been suggested to lower clothing replacement cycles, including user involvement in design and/or manufacture, production on demand, service-based systems, as well as multifunctional and repairable garments [16–19]. However, there is lack of empirical data on whether these reduce the environmental impact of consumption, and there is evidence that they may not function as intended [20,21]. At the final consumption phase, selecting disposal methods that are higher on the waste hierarchy is environmentally preferable, such as giving clothing to reuse instead of wasting it [22].

Maintenance of clothing is important, as it contributes to pollution in waterways such as the spread of microplastics and harmful chemicals from detergents, in addition to the consumption of energy and water in laundering, drying, and other care [23,24]. At the same time, maintenance is crucial for keeping clothing functional. Consumers can reduce this environmental impact through choice of materials, washing frequencies, and cleaning methods [25,26].

This thematic Issue encourages research into all above-mentioned topics and strategies related to clothing use phase and sustainable consumption. Articles focusing on production are outside the scope of this Issue. Different methodological approaches are welcome, including qualitative and quantitative studies, case studies, experiments, as well as articles that aim to develop theoretical approaches.

References

  1. Lehmann, M.; Tärneberg, S.; Tochtermann, T.; Chalmer, C.; Eder-Hansen, J.; Seara, J.F.; Boger, S.; Hase, C.; Berlepsch, V.V.; Deichmann, S. Pulse of the fashion industry; Global Fashion Agenda & The Boston Consulting Group: 2018; http://www.globalfashionagenda.com/download/3700/.
  2. Fletcher, K. Sustainable fashion & textiles: Design journeys. Earthscan: London, 2008; ISBN 1844074633.
  3. Allwood, J.M.; Laursen, S.E.; Malvido de Rodríquez, C.; Bocken, N.M.P. Well dressed? The present and future sustainability of clothing and textiles in the united kingdom; University of Cambridge, Institute for Manufacturing: Cambridge, 2006; https://www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/uploads/Resources/Other_Reports/UK_textiles.pdf.
  4. Carbon Trust. International carbon flows - clothing (ctc793); CTC793; Carbon Trust: London, 6.5.2011, 2011; p 17 http://www.carbontrust.com/media/38358/ctc793-international-carbon-flows-clothing.pdf.
  5. Quantis. Measuring fashion. Environmental impact of the global apparel and footwear industries study; ClimateWorks Foundation: 2018; https://quantis-intl.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/measuringfashion_globalimpactstudy_full-report_quantis_cwf_2018a.pdf.
  6. Laitala, K.; Boks, C. Sustainable clothing design: Use matters. Journal of design research 2012, 10, 121-139, doi 10.1504/JDR.2012.046142
  7. Gracey, F.; Moon, D. Valuing our clothes: The evidence base; WRAP: Banbury, UK, July, 2012; p 69 http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/10.7.12%20VOC-%20FINAL.pdf.
  8. Cooper, T. Longer lasting products: Alternatives to the throwaway society. Gower Publishing Limited Surrey, UK, 2010;
  9. Goworek, H.; Oxborrow, L.; Claxton, S.; McLaren, A.; Cooper, T.; Hill, H. Managing sustainability in the fashion business: Challenges in product development for clothing longevity in the uk. Journal of Business Research 2018, doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2018.07.021.
  10. Zamani, B.; Sandin, G.; Peters, G.M. Life cycle assessment of clothing libraries: Can collaborative consumption reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion? Journal of Cleaner Production 2017, 162, 1368-1375, doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.06.128.
  11. Klepp, I.G.; Laitala, K. Shared use and owning of clothes: Borrow, steal, or inherit. In Contemporary collaborative consumption - trust and reciprocity revisited, Cruz, I.S.; Ganga, R.; Wahlen, S., Eds. Springer VS: Wiesbaden, Germany, 2018; pp 153-177
  12. Fletcher, K. Craft of use : Post-growth fashion. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon, 2016; ISBN 9781138021006.
  13. Fletcher, K.; Grose, L. Fashion and sustainability: Design for change. Laurence King: London, 2012; p 192 978 1 85669 754 5.
  14. Fisher, K.; James, K.; Maddox, P. Benefits of reuse case study: Clothing; WRAP: Banbury, UK, November, 2011; p 41 http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Clothing%20reuse_final.pdf.
  15. Laitala, K.; Klepp, I.G. Care and production of clothing in norwegian homes: Environmental implications of mending and making practices. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2899, doi 10.3390/su10082899.
  16. Maldini, I.; Balkenende, A.R. In Reducing clothing production volumes by design: A critical review of sustainable fashion strategies, Product Lifetimes And The Environment - PLATE 2017, Delft, 9 November, 2017; Bakker, C.; Mugge, R., Eds. Delft University of Technology and IOS Press: Delft, pp 233-237 http://ebooks.iospress.nl/publication/47876.
  17. Cooper, T.; Hill, H.; Kininmonth, J.; Townsend, K.; Hughes, M.; Shorrocks, J.; Knox, A.; Fisher, T.; Saicheua, V. Design for longevity - guidance on increasing the active life of clothing; Wrap: Banbury, Oxon, 2013; http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Design%20for%20Longevity%20Report_0.pdf.
  18. Niinimäki, K.; Hassi, L. Emerging design strategies in sustainable production and consumption of textiles and clothing. Journal of Cleaner Production 2011, 19, 1876-1883, doi 10.1016/j.jclepro.2011.04.020.
  19. Niinimäki, K. Sustainable fashion: New approaches. Aalto University: Helsinki, 2013; 9789526055725.
  20. Maldini, I.; Stappers, P.J.; Gimeno-Martinez, J.C.; Daanen, H.A.M. Assessing the impact of design strategies on clothing lifetimes, usage and volumes: The case of product personalisation. Journal of Cleaner Production 2019, 210, 1414-1424, doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2018.11.056.
  21. Fletcher, K. Durability, fashion, sustainability: The processes and practices of use. Fashion Practice: The Journal of Design, Creative Process & the Fashion 2012, 4, 221-238, doi 10.2752/175693812X13403765252389.
  22. Laitala, K.; Klepp, I.G. Clothing disposal habits and consequences for life cycle assessment (lca). In Handbook of life cycle assessment (lca) of textiles and clothing, Muthu, S.S., Ed. Woodhead Publishing (Elsevier Ltd): Cambridge, 2015; pp 345-365 9780081001691.
  23. Bain, J.; Beton, A.; Schultze, A.; Mudgal, S.; Dowling, M.; Holdway, R.; Owens, J. Reducing the environmental impact of clothes cleaning: A research report completed for defra; BIO intelligence Service in collaboration with Giraffe and Intertek: London, 2009; http://randd.defra.gov.uk/Document.aspx?Document=EV0419_8628_FRP.pdf.
  24. Henry, B.; Laitala, K.; Klepp, I.G. Microfibres from apparel and home textiles: Prospects for including microplastics in environmental sustainability assessment. Science of The Total Environment 2019, 652, 483-494, doi https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2018.10.166.
  25. Laitala, K.; Boks, C.; Klepp, I.G. Potential for environmental improvements in laundering. International Journal of Consumer Studies 2011, 35, 254-264, doi 10.1111/j.1470-6431.2010.00968.x.
  26. Laitala, K.; Klepp, I.; Henry, B. Does use matter? Comparison of environmental impacts of clothing based on fiber type. Sustainability 2018, 10, doi 10.3390/su10072524.

Dr. Kirsi Laitala
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Apparel longevity and active use
  • Circular economy and collaborative clothing consumption
  • Clothing design for sustainable behaviour
  • Environemtnal impact of use phase
  • Laundry and maintenance
  • Policy measures for sustainable consumption
  • Repair, repurposing, and redesign
  • Reuse and disposal.

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
Laundry Care Regimes: Do the Practices of Keeping Clothes Clean Have Different Environmental Impacts Based on the Fibre Content?
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7537; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187537 - 12 Sep 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2690
Abstract
Clothing maintenance is necessary for keeping clothing and textiles functional and socially acceptable, but it has environmental consequences due to the use of energy, water and chemicals. This article discusses whether clothes made of different materials are cleaned in different ways and have [...] Read more.
Clothing maintenance is necessary for keeping clothing and textiles functional and socially acceptable, but it has environmental consequences due to the use of energy, water and chemicals. This article discusses whether clothes made of different materials are cleaned in different ways and have different environmental impacts. It fills a knowledge gap needed in environmental assessments that evaluate the impacts based on the function of a garment by giving detailed information on the use phase. The article is based on a quantitative wardrobe survey and qualitative laundry diary data from China, Germany, Japan, the UK and the USA. The largest potential for environmental improvement exists in reducing laundering frequency and in the selection of washing and drying processes, and through a transition to fibres that are washed less frequently, such as wool. Adopting best practice garment care would give larger benefits in countries like the US where the consumption values were the highest, mainly due to extensive use of clothes dryers and less efficient washing machines combined with frequent cleaning. These variations should be considered in environmental assessments of clothing and when forming sustainability policies. The results indicate the benefits of focusing future environmental work on consumer habits and culture and not only technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel)
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Article
From Wearing Off to Wearing On: The Meanders of Wearer–Clothing Relationships
Sustainability 2020, 12(18), 7264; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187264 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1253
Abstract
The current patterns of production and consumption of clothes are known for their negative impacts on our planet, and the efforts towards a responsible fashion system must come from industry and users alike. Whereas the fashion industry may focus on achieving eco-efficiency, designers [...] Read more.
The current patterns of production and consumption of clothes are known for their negative impacts on our planet, and the efforts towards a responsible fashion system must come from industry and users alike. Whereas the fashion industry may focus on achieving eco-efficiency, designers need to engage the wearers in long-term commitment with their clothes to counteract the ongoing increase of textile waste. However, current design strategies for product attachment have proven that it is difficult to succeed at this mission. In this paper we introduce the focus and theoretical framework of a research project that aims to study the relationship between wearers and clothes. We present our research perspective through a literature review that is supported by empirical testimonies of dozens of women, whose words illustrate the complexity of human relationships with garments. When we compare our connection with clothes to interpersonal love relationships, we find that the similarities are significant enough to justify a different approach in design practice, and we suggest a re-focus on the existing wearer–clothing relationships. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel)
Article
Fast Fashion Avoidance Beliefs and Anti-Consumption Behaviors: The Cases of Korea and Spain
Sustainability 2020, 12(17), 6907; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12176907 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 5243
Abstract
The ethics of the fast fashion industry have been called into question with the emergence of new consumption paradigms, such as anti-consumerism and sustainable consumption. This study aims to explore the conceptual structure of fast fashion avoidance beliefs that have led to the [...] Read more.
The ethics of the fast fashion industry have been called into question with the emergence of new consumption paradigms, such as anti-consumerism and sustainable consumption. This study aims to explore the conceptual structure of fast fashion avoidance beliefs that have led to the anti-consumption of fast fashion. Data were collected from female consumers aged between 20 and 39 years with experiences of purchasing fast fashion brands in Korea and Spain. The structure of avoidance beliefs was compared through second-order factor analysis, and the data were analyzed using multiple regression. The structure of avoidance beliefs showed satisfactory validity and reliability in Korea, whereas deindividuation and foreignness were not included as negative beliefs in Spain. An analysis of the association between negative beliefs and anti-consumption showed that deindividuation and foreignness had positive effects on the anti-consumption of fast fashion in Korea. In Spain, poor performance and irresponsibility had positive effects, while overly trendy style had a negative effect on the anti-consumption of fast fashion. These findings contribute to the literature on anti-fast fashion consumption as part of the ethical apparel consumption movements. We can understand global consumers’ anti-consumption of fast fashion, diagnose the current status of fast fashion in the global market, and even suggest future directions for fast fashion retailers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel)
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Article
Clothing Lifespans: What Should Be Measured and How
Sustainability 2020, 12(15), 6219; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12156219 - 02 Aug 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2715
Abstract
Increasing the use of each product, most often called longer lifespans, is an effective environmental strategy. This article discusses how garment lifespans can be described in order to be measured and compared. It answers two sub-questions: (1) what to measure (units), and (2) [...] Read more.
Increasing the use of each product, most often called longer lifespans, is an effective environmental strategy. This article discusses how garment lifespans can be described in order to be measured and compared. It answers two sub-questions: (1) what to measure (units), and (2) how to measure (methods). We introduce and define terms related to clothing lifespans and contribute to discussions about an appropriate functional unit for garments in life cycle assessments (LCA) and other environmental accounting tools. We use a global wardrobe survey to exemplify the units and methods. Clothing lifespans can be described and measured in years, the number of wears, cleaning cycles, and users. All have an independent value that show different and central aspects of clothing lifespans. A functional unit for LCAs should emphasise both the number of wears for all users as well as the service lifespan in years. Number of wears is the best measure for regular clothing, while number of years is most suited for occasion wear, because it is important to account for the need of more garments to cover all the relevant occasions during a specified time period. It is possible to study lifespan via carefully constructed surveys, providing key data relating to actual garment use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel)
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Article
The Drivers of Sustainable Apparel and Sportswear Consumption: A Segmented Kano Perspective
Sustainability 2020, 12(7), 2788; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12072788 - 01 Apr 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 4966
Abstract
The steady increase of sustainable consumer behavior leads companies to strengthen their efforts to become socially and ecologically more sustainable. Particularly in the clothing and footwear industry, more and more companies are aware of their need to fundamentally adapt the way they create [...] Read more.
The steady increase of sustainable consumer behavior leads companies to strengthen their efforts to become socially and ecologically more sustainable. Particularly in the clothing and footwear industry, more and more companies are aware of their need to fundamentally adapt the way they create value. Sustainability offerings are developed, e.g., usage of upcycled materials (e.g., ocean plastic), circular business models (e.g., decomposition of returned products into components for new ones), as well as adapted product ranges (e.g., smaller or with fewer fashion cycles). However, it is frequently unclear in advance, which offerings will increase (or decrease) satisfaction and, consequently, drive (or not drive) sustainable consumption. The application of a segmented Kano perspective in an apparel and sportswear context that helps to answer these questions is presented: 17 potential offerings were assessed by a sample of 490 consumers. Our analysis demonstrates the usefulness of this methodology and that returning used products (to recycle them), discounts for buying sustainable products, sustainability level indicators, and biobased materials are highly attractive. However, the responsiveness varies across the derived consumer segments, from being decisive or attractive to indifferent or reverse. As assumed, gender and attitude towards sustainability are good predictors for segment membership. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel)
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Article
Consumers’ Perceptions and Attitudes toward Products Preventing Microfiber Pollution in Aquatic Environments as a Result of the Domestic Washing of Synthetic Clothes
Sustainability 2020, 12(6), 2244; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12062244 - 13 Mar 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2375
Abstract
Microfibers released by synthetic clothes have a significant negative effect on the environment. Several solutions have been proposed and evaluated for their effectiveness, but studies have failed to address the human-centered aspects of these products. In this research, the possibilities and needs from [...] Read more.
Microfibers released by synthetic clothes have a significant negative effect on the environment. Several solutions have been proposed and evaluated for their effectiveness, but studies have failed to address the human-centered aspects of these products. In this research, the possibilities and needs from a consumer perspective for a new filtering system for domestic washing machines were examined. First, a quantitative (questionnaire) and a qualitative (interviews and observations) exploration were done to understand the desired requirements from a user perspective. Next, the acceptance of various existing solutions for microfiber catching was investigated. To verify these requirements, a new concept was designed and evaluated with a questionnaire. The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics. It can be concluded that the problem of microfibers is not well known, and the impact of people’s washing behavior is underestimated. Since microfibers are almost invisible, the effectiveness needed to be proven. Effectiveness is seen as the most important characteristic of a product that captures microfibers, followed by durability. Both factors ensure long-term usage. However, changing washing habits is not evident, and usage should be straightforward and user-friendly to save time, especially considering the new cleaning actions, which should be clear and unambiguous. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel)
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Article
Which Consumer Associations Can Build a Sustainable Fashion Brand Image? Evidence from Fast Fashion Brands
Sustainability 2020, 12(5), 1703; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12051703 - 25 Feb 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 10011
Abstract
Since fast fashion is often considered the opposite of sustainable fashion, this study was conducted to clarify the consumer brand associations with sustainable fashion by analyzing three fast fashion brands. Our research included two studies. First, we conducted in-depth interviews with 20 female [...] Read more.
Since fast fashion is often considered the opposite of sustainable fashion, this study was conducted to clarify the consumer brand associations with sustainable fashion by analyzing three fast fashion brands. Our research included two studies. First, we conducted in-depth interviews with 20 female consumers in Korea who had purchase experience with the sustainable fashion of three selected brands, H&M, Zara, and Uniqlo, to identify sustainable keyword associations. We then structured the keyword data using network analysis. The keyword associations for the three brands resulted in a network of 60 nodes and 629 links with the term “eco-friendly” as the most meaningful keyword. Second, we surveyed 200 women and quantitatively confirmed the association of “eco-friendly fabric” among the keywords suggestive of “eco-friendly” as the most important factor in building a sustainable fashion brand image. In addition, keywords, such as “marketing” and “campaign”, were ranked in the top ten in H&M and Zara, which may imply the opportunistic use of greenwash. This study contributes to the literature by applying in-depth analysis of consumer associations of fast fashion brands from a sustainability perspective through network analysis. We expect our findings to help fashion companies strategically build a sustainable fashion brand image. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Clothing Consumption: Circular Use of Apparel)
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