It’s time for fashion companies to swap sustainable marketing tactics for more impactful but potentially less crowded changes, according to Lauren Singer, founder of Package Free Shop.
“A lot of people try to focus on what looks sexy and marketable for increasing fashion emissions, but actually most of the impact in the fashion industry comes from the supply chain,” says Singer.
Creating more energy efficient factories, replacing light bulbs and improving shipping and logistics in the supply chain will make a big impact, Singer said during an interview with WWD sustainability editor Kaley Roshitsh.
“Replacing light bulbs is much less sexy than removing ocean-bound plastic, but that’s where the impact is coming from, and we need to make those big changes fast,” Singer said. “If every manufacturer replaced their light bulb it would be great for the planet, but much less sexy for the market.”
Singer runs the Package Free Shop on Bond Street in New York, and has also developed a laundry business called The Simply Co. She went viral a decade ago when she put her year’s worth of trash in a large jar, and has since become a zero-waste lifestyle influencer. He started his blog, Trash is for Tossers, in 2010.
Singer says it’s on a mission to reduce the amount of waste people produce every day, but businesses can make a bigger impact on the environment.
“I focus on waste as a way individuals can take steps to reduce their personal impact on climate change. The reason is that when you throw trash in a landfill, it creates methane which is a more lethal greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,” Singer said.
While Singer lives — and encourages others to live — in a way that is “parallel” to the world he wants to see, he says policy changes are needed to make a bigger impact.
“It’s not about being perfect, it’s about doing what we can to mitigate climate change because policy and big business aren’t taking the necessary steps,” Singer said.
He suggested ending subsidies for the oil and gas industry, creating large-scale composting infrastructure and holding businesses accountable for the waste they produce. “There are much bigger things that need to happen,” Singer said.
In his business, Package Free, he aims to bring consumers a choice of everyday use products that have minimal packaging. This business sells beauty, grooming, period, home, kitchen and hygiene products.
“Our aspiration is to help our customers find the best, most environmentally friendly, version of these products so they can make small, everyday trade-offs that result in a bigger and more positive environmental impact,” said Singer.
Behind the scenes, Package Free finds out how products are made and the ingredients. “We do a lot of that work so customers don’t have to do it,” Singer said. The business is meant to make sustainable shopping more aesthetically appealing, while using reclaimed materials and second-hand goods in stores.
Singer advises companies to think about the end of life for the products they make.
“The end-of-life solution is a huge opportunity,” he said.
“We’re cleaning up the mess that keeps spilling over,” Singer said. What we need to do in terms of plastic pollution and environmental degradation is, we need to turn off the hoses, we have to stop creating problems in the first place.”
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