China

After the Binge the Hangover

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International Fashion Consumption Survey

A new survey, commissioned by Greenpeace, of the shopping habits of people in Europe and Asia finds that regularly buying too many clothes, shoes, bags and accessories has become an international phenomenon. This is especially striking in China and Hong Kong, but is also widespread in Europe, with up to half of consumers buying more clothes than they need and use.

Overconsumption of fashion is now deeply entrenched in our everyday culture, both in old European economies and in emerging ones such as China. In many ways, China is currently leading this trend, with more than half of Chinese consumers owning more clothes and bags than they need. Almost half of Chinese consumers buy more than they can afford – and more than makes them happy, and around 40 percent qualify as excessive shoppers, shopping compulsively more than once a week. Young, high-income women are the most vulnerable. The spread of online shopping and social media makes people even more susceptible to overconsumption.

These people are not shopping because they need something new – their motivation is the longing for excitement, satisfaction and confidence in front of others. Shoppers also seek to release stress, kill time and relieve boredom.

However, shopping does not make them happy; people already own too much and they know it. Around 50 percent report that their shopping excitement wears off within a day. A third of the East Asians feel even more empty and unfulfilled afterwards. They also seem to know they are on the wrong path; around half of consumers are hiding their purchases from others, fearing accusations of wasting money or other negative reactions.

Shopping behaviour is widely influenced by people’s social environment and media consumption. Social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook or WeChat in China are driving shopping mania, especially among young digitally connected East Asians. Browsing fashion blogs or following friends and celebrities triggers even more buying. After excessive shopping people experience regular tiredness and boredom – the binge is followed by a hangover.

About this survey

For this survey commissioned by Greenpeace, independent survey institutes Nuggets, TNS and SWG asked European and East Asian consumers about their shopping habits (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy, Germany) – how often, where and for how long they shop for clothing. We also wanted to know why they go shopping, what triggers them to buy new clothes – and whether they get fulfilled by doing so. All surveys are representative and were carried out between December 2016 and March 2017 amongst at least 1000 people aged 20 to 45 in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Italy and Germany.

Download the Greenpeace Germany report here:

After the Binge, the Hangover – International Fashion Consumption Survey

*This story first appeared on Greenpeace

China Using Electron Beams to Treat Textile Wastewater

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Image Credit: Nuclear and Energy Technology Institute, Tsinghua University, Beijing

Textile dyeing accounts for one fifth of all industrial wastewater pollution generated worldwide and much of it, particularly in developing countries in Asia, goes untreated. Now, China is employing electron beams to treat effluent from textile dyeing plants, ushering in a new era for radiation technology.

“Despite advances in conventional wastewater treatment technology in recent years, radiation remains the only technology that can treat the most stubborn colorants in wastewater,” said Suni Sabharwal, Radiation Processing Specialist at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “The problem is that the technology exists in developed countries, while most of the need now is in the developing world.”

To bridge the knowledge gap, the IAEA ran a coordinated research project on the technology, including its transfer to several countries, mostly in Asia. Chinese researchers, for example, have benefited from the advice of experts from Hungary, Korea and Poland in the adoption of the technology and the construction of the plant, said Jianlong Wang, Deputy Director of the Nuclear and Energy Technology Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing and the principal researcher behind the project.

The new plant in Jinhua city, 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, will treat 1500 cubic meters of wastewater per day, around a sixth of the plant’s output. “If everything goes smoothly, we will be able to roll out technology to the rest of the plant and eventually to other plants across the country,” Wang said.

Before opting for radiation technology using electronic beams, Chinese researchers had run an extensive set of feasibility experiments using the effluent from the plant, comparing electron beam technology with other methods. “Electron beam technology was the clear winner as both the more ecological and more effective option,” Wang added.

Other countries with large textile manufacturing industries, such as India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, are also considering introducing the technology with the assistance of the IAEA. India is already using gamma irradiation to treat municipal sewage sludge.

In standard wastewater treatment, bacteria are used to digest and breakdown pollutants. However, the molecules in textile effluent cannot be treated with bacteria. To color textiles, compounds with large, long and complex chains are used. Wastewater from the industry can contain more than 70 complex chemicals that do not easily degrade.

By irradiating the effluent using electron beams, scientists can break these complex chemicals into smaller molecules, which, in turn, can be treated and removed using normal biological processes. Irradiation is done using short-lived reactive radicals than can interact with a wide range of pollutants and break them down.

Chinese researchers are also considering the use of electron beam technology to treat residues from pharmaceutical plants that produce antibiotics. These residues are currently handled as hazardous waste because they contain antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes that cannot be destroyed using conventional technologies, such as composting or oxidation. Research has revealed that electron beam technology can effectively decompose the residual antibiotics and antibiotic resistance genes, Wang explained. The establishment of a demonstration plant at an industrial scale is planned for later this year.

*This story first appeared on Sustainable Brands

More Companies to be Assessed in Second Sustainable Cotton Ranking

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Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF have released the list of companies that will be assessed in the new round of their Sustainable Cotton Ranking to be published in October 2017. The second edition of the ranking will include major companies from all continents, including from countries such as China and Brazil, and online companies such as Zalando and Amazon. As in 2016, the ranking will score companies on their policy, traceability and actual uptake of sustainable cotton.

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On the Target List

This year the scope of the ranking will be broadened. The target list of companies (PDF) has been expanded to offer a more global representation of consumer-facing companies estimated to use more than 10,000 metric tons of lint cotton annually and include companies from emerging markets and online retailers.

Creating a list of the largest corporate cotton users is challenging as most companies do not publish the volumes they use in their products. PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF welcome feedback from any companies who believe their cotton use has been under or over-estimated, as well as those whose may have been omitted from the list and wish to be included.

Scoring Company Progress

The first Cotton Ranking (PDF) published in 2016 showed that the majority of companies using most cotton globally were failing to deliver on cotton sustainability, with just eight companies out of 37 showing positive progress in the ranking.

By conducting a second Cotton Ranking in 2017, PAN UK, Solidaridad and WWF expect to see that more companies have taken steps forward on their sustainable cotton policies, traceability and sourcing. As transparency and accountability to customers is considered paramount by the three NGOs, only publicly available information will be used in scoring company performance. The report will be published in October 2017 so as to take into account companies’ public reporting on their 2016 performance.

Updating Market Trends

The report will also include a market update on the available supply and uptake of cotton from the main cotton sustainability standards (organic, Fairtrade, Cotton Made in Africa and Better Cotton). While around 10% of global cotton supply was grown according to one of these standards in 2014, less than a fifth of this amount was actually being bought as more sustainable cotton, with the rest being sold as conventional due to lack of demand from top brands and companies.

Notes

Cotton Ranking

The Cotton Ranking 2016 report can be downloaded here along with the briefing ‘Mind the Gap: Towards a More Sustainable Cotton Market’ (PDF) published in April 2016 which gives an overview of the market for more sustainable cotton.

Thirty-seven companies estimated globally to use the most cotton in their products were scored on their sustainable cotton policy, sourcing, and traceability. Only publicly available information was used in scoring company performance.

The Cotton Ranking focuses on companies rather than individual brands as, while sustainability practices can vary significantly between different brands, entire companies need to change sourcing practices in order to transform cotton production.

Cotton Globally

Cotton is grown in around 80 countries worldwide and is a key raw material for the textile industry, accounting for around 32% of all fibres used. Sustainability issues include the widespread use of pesticides, with 6.2% of global pesticide sales associated with cotton production (which uses just 2.3% of the world’s arable land), and intensive water use, with 73% of global production currently dependent on irrigation.

While many smallholder cotton farmers are driven into debt by the cost of pesticides and fertilisers, sustainable cotton production has the potential to lift farmers out of poverty by providing a more stable income and improving working conditions.

A number of sustainable cotton standards have been developed in the last 35 years, starting with Organic cotton in the 1980s, followed by Fairtrade in 2004, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) in 2005 and the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2009. All provide guidance and support for farmers and seek to assure retailers and consumers that the cotton in the products they buy are being produced using sustainable farming methods.

The supply of sustainable cotton has never been greater (estimated to be at 13% of global supply in 2015) but uptake by companies, essential for mainstreaming sustainable cotton, remains low at approximately 17% of what is available.

*This story first appeared on Solidaridad Network

Meet Pan Wen: Finalist of the EcoChic Design Award 2016

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The EcoChic Design Award 2015-16 Mainland China finalist_Pan Wen - Copy.jpgThrough the next two months, GreenStitched sits down with the finalists of EcoChic Design Award 2015/16. EcoChic Design Award is a sustainable fashion design competition organised by Redress, inspiring emerging fashion designers and students to create mainstream clothing with minimal textile waste.

The interviews with these young designers will be posted every Wednesday on GreenStitched.

Today we meet Pan Wen, a recent graduate of Fashion Design from Central Saint Martins who has returned to Mainland China to pursue her career in fashion design.

What brought you into the world of fashion? That ‘aha’ moment which opened doors to sustainable fashion?

Pan Wen: I love nature and it pains me to see people endlessly emitting industrial waste for the pursuit of superficial vanity and harming animals and plants in the process. I have always felt that there must be ways to balance one’s needs with the burden we put on our earth. I want to keep exploring this balance through sustainable fashion design, a field which I am passionate about, and spark a deeper reflection through my work.

What was your inspiration for the EcoChic Design Award collection?

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Image: Tim Wong, Redress

Pan Wen: The inspiration came from a 1940’s Scottish tapestry in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The tapestry depicts a scene of blue-blooded people who are hunting for fun. There is this enormous contrast between their elegant life and this cruel behaviour. I wanted to create a collection to express this contrast and condemn a society that would engage in hunting out of pride and vanity.

The collection’s colour is inspired by that tapestry’s soft vintage colour, and the pattern is derived from my sketch of that tapestry. I wanted to use a tender colour to contrast with the cruel reality of hunting. The simple but bold shape is inspired by the garments of the aristocratic hunters in that picture.

3 things you learnt from of the challenge?

Pan Wen:
– Being organised is crucial.

– There are more sustainable materials beside organic cotton. There is a lot more high-tech and exciting materials out there.

– Process and outcomes are both important in fashion design.

How do you think sustainable fashion can move from a niche to the mainstream?

Pan Wen: Education and events like the EcoChic Design Award helps a lot. Propaganda and advertisement also works. As long as costumers are aware of the importance of sustainability.

What is the biggest misconception about sustainable fashion?

Pan Wen: Sustainable fashion is not just some homemade craft making use of recycled waste – I think this may be the biggest misconception. Sustainable fashion is about the consideration of processes along the entire fashion supply chain, and in a highly sustainable way too.

What is your advice for the next breed of fashion designers?

Pan Wen: Get to know what you are doing, and work really hard to do your best.

What is next in store for you?

Pan Wen: I enjoy living every moment! I look forward to doing some design collaborations with artists in other areas.

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You can follow Pan Wen on Instagram


Watch Frontline Fashion, a  documentary following these talented Asian and European emerging fashion designers determined to change the future of fashion. As they descend into Hong Kong for the design battle of their lives, all eyes are on the first prize; to design an up-cycled collection for China’s leading luxury brand, Shanghai Tang. This documentary is available on iTunes here.

The next cycle of the EcoChic Design Awards is open for application from 3 January to 3 April 2017. Interested students can find more details here.

 

 

How could Skin Pigments be used to Strengthen Clothing and Fabrics in our Homes?

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An adult has 60,000 melanin pigmTests showed that melanin from a cuttlefish made polyurethane a lot stronger.ents living in each square inch of our skin. It is a natural substance found in an animals’ skin, hair and the iris of the eye. Melanin determines our hair and skin colour as well as protecting it from ultra violet damage. It does this by absorbing the light which then causes the skin to darken and tan. But it probably hasn’t occured to you that this very skin pigment could enhance the polyurethane manufacturing process to help strengthen many of the materials that are used in our households every day. Scientists from China’s Jiangnan University have made the recent discovery that adding melanin to polyurethane plastic will make fabrics and foams in substances like cushions and clothing more durable. This breakthrough could start to feature around our homes very soon.

Polyurethane is a synthetic material. Since its invention in the 1940s it can be used for a broad range of items from children’s toys to aeroplane wings. Broadly speaking, in manufacturing industries it can be used to make products such as foam seating, wheels, tires and synthetic fibres like Spandex and carpet underlay. Over three quarters of the global consumption of polyurethane products are foam based and the furniture industry is the third biggest user of the material following the building and transport industries. It is a polymer which is both flexible and durable commonly found in the home. Its flexible properties also extend to mouldings like door frames.

memory-foamHowever, its biggest drawback is the fact that it is prone to damage and breakage, so research has been conducted by the Chinese university to improve the longevity of the widely used material. In the past, scientists have tried to improve its qualities by adding fillers, including silica, carbon nanotubes and graphene oxide. While these enhance tensile strength they do not address the issue of toughness. The testings found that some of the substances created improvements but this counteracted the important properties of the material. However, melanin has successfully been able to deliver the enhancements to strengthen this widely used polymer.

In laboratory tests led by Mingqing Chen and Weifu Dong, new findings have unveiled that even polyurethane that contains only 2% of melanin will still improve the strength and toughness of a material. The experiment was carried out using melanin from the ink sacs of cuttlefish. Results reveal that the polymer’s properties were enhanced by 27.4 megajoules per cubic metre which allow the polyurethane to stretch itself up to 1,880% before breaking unlike previous figures which were 770%. According to the Chinese scientists, this increase was due to the melanin nanoparticle’s tendency to link with the polymer chain that make up the polyurethane.

For further information the full research has now been published in the journal Biomacromolecules titled “Superior Performance of Polyurethane Based on Natural Melanin Nanoparticles.”

*This story first appeared on Bio-Based World News

 

The Future of Chinese Fashion? Going Green

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Blogger Monki Yuki explains what her Shanghai Fashion Week highlight Green Code means for the future of Chinese fashion.

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At Shanghai Fashion Week this year, as usual, we saw many excellent designers showcasing their S/S 17 collections, but this season’s shows were very different for one key reason: the launch of a temporary new venue called Green Code.

Hosted by Lane Crawford and need-to-know Shanghai based PR agency Hard Candy, its purpose was to introduce sustainable fashion. As we all know, garment production has a strong impact on the environment. The dye and the processing of fabric creates pollution which profoundly changes our natural environment. As a major manufacturing hub, this is something that will need to improve in China’s near future. In Europe many brands have already launched more sustainable production lines, including the popular fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M. Since this global conversation is becoming increasingly relevant for the Chinese market, a first step has been taken with the temporary Green Code venue.

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As one of the official venues for Shanghai Fashion Week, Green Code was divided into two areas: pop-up stores and a catwalk space. The pop-up store was open to the public. All the brands participating in Green Code had a sustainable aspect to their brand identity, by gathering these brands, attendees are able to better understand the many benefits of  sustainability. Outside of this venue a clothing recycling box was set up. Here, unwanted clothes could be donated to benefit those in need, while helping donators be more environmentally friendly by allowing their clothing to be reused, which is still a relatively new concept for China due to the strong social stigma against secondhand clothing.

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iLook fashion editor Crystal Gao donating clothes

For the show venue Hard Candy founder Candy Li told us a clear plastic roof was used so energy could be saved for day time fashion shows.

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While Li said there was still a lot of things that could be improved for this project, which will become a recurring part of Shanghai Fashion Week, she felt that this was a great first step forward.

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Hard Candy founder Candy Li and blogger Boynam

Although China’s green fashion industry is just beginning, its importance is likely to quickly grow due to a growing local interest in the environment. For overseas brands entering and developing in the Chinese market, more environmentally friendly offers, transparent production and sustainable materials are sure to become an important part of their brand image, future development and continued relevance for Chinese shoppers as consumers mature and priorities change.

*This story first appeared on WGSN

 

India, China to Emerge as Biggest Markets for Sustainable Fashion by 2030

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India and China, the two most populated countries in the world, are going to be the most coveted markets by 2030. As the current global economic trend moves towards the next decade, it is clear that the US will be replaced by China as the world’s biggest apparel market and India will not be far behind

India and China, the two most populated countries in the world, are going to be the most coveted markets by 2030. As the current global economic trend moves towards the next decade, it is clear that the US will be replaced by China as the world’s biggest apparel market and India will not be far behind.

Though China’s economy has slowed in recent years India China to emerge biggest markets for sustainable fashion creating a disparity in supply-demand but the overall market sentiment remain positive with high consumer confidence. According to a study by Fung Global Retail & Technology, consumer spending trend remains high for kids’ wear and casual wear categories. Meanwhile, recent reports by Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence showed India’s confidence is up three points from the previous quarter. “The Union Budget revealed the government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation which will pave the way for sustained and inclusive growth. In following months an improvement in various macroeconomic indicators was evident, and the government seems to be on its way to achieving its objectives of low inflation, low interest rates and high GDP growth—a scenario optimal for improved consumer spending” says Roosevelt D’Souza, MD, Nielsen India.

Changing retail landscape to create future opportunity

China’s positive economic outlook might result from its “One Belt, One Road” initiative, an economic and diplomatic program that calls for major investment in the region’s trade routes. In a recent McKinsey podcast, senior partner Kevin Sneader explained “There are two parts to this: the belt and the road,” he said. “The belt is the physical road, which takes one from here all the way through Europe to somewhere up north in Scandinavia. What they call the road is actually the maritime Silk Road, in other words, shipping lanes, essentially from here to Venice. Therefore it’s very ambitious, covering about 65 per cent of the world’s population, about one-third of the world’s GDP, and about a quarter of all the goods and services the world moves.”The $100 billion initiative would help fuel growth for China after its economy has seen a period of slowing down. In another positive trend, China’s apparel market is becoming more organised as the top 10 brands in activewear, jeanswear and casualwear, have been increasing their market share significantly. Thus, making the market more competitive and quality driven.

India on the other hand witnessed significant growth in organised retail driven by increasing consumer preference for specialty, department, and hypermarkets and increasing lifestyle spend. Over the last decade, almost all global brands have made a beeline for India market changing the retail landscape of the country.

Sustainable fashion emerges strong

An in depth analysis of both China and India reveals consumer’s changing perception and increasing awareness for sustainable fashion and natural fibres. According to Indian Consumer Survey Fully 73 % say they “could spend the rest of their life” in the fibre. Additionally, 7 in 10 Indian shoppers say they would be more likely to shop at a store offering clothes made from more sustainable materials, and nearly 8 in 10 (79 percent) say they put effort into finding sustainable apparel. As more manmade fibres have entered India’s market, businesses that promote natural fibres stand to be noticed. And 76 % of shoppers are more loyal to brands offering natural fibres like cotton. In China, 68 % of consumers are willing to pay more to keep clothing cotton-rich, according to the CCI and Cotton Incorporated Chinese Consumer Survey. Cotton Incorporated and CCI has initiated a promotion programme “Mian is…” (MI) in China for a decade, reminding consumers about the benefits of cotton and educating them on the fibre via digital and social media campaigns. “In 2015, with the theme of ‘Cotton, more than looking good,’ the campaign promoted cotton’s fashionability and other benefits,” says Cotton Incorporated’s Angela Chen, Manager, and Public Relations China. She emphasizes the depth of MI’s digital dive. “One of the MI musical and dance videos reached 16 million viewers. The program also has more than 60000 Weibo fans and more than 10000 fans on Wechat, just joined last June.”

*This story first appeared on Textile Future