Design Incentives within the Fashion Industry (SDG 6, Challenge #2)

Fashion is the third most polluting industry in the world, after oil and agriculture. It’s estimated that around 20% of industrial water pollution comes from treatment and dying of textiles, and about 8,000 synthetic chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles. With the water systems so closely connected, the waste produced from the industry can make the environment sick, people who drink the polluted water sick, and the workers working with those chemicals sick.

One of our interviewees, Tyler Clemens (co-founder of Outlier), expressed his frustration with sustainability in his industry partly because there is still a very strong traditional idea of competition and secrecy to each company and each factory’s processes surrounding how they make their clothes. The lack of transparency makes it very difficult for company’s to want to standardize or share sustainability practices. This creates a very difficult wall for new designers and businesses to break down, and also makes it much harder to hold parties accountable whether from the factories, the fabric, the distributors, retailers or the consumer.

Our design challenge then became “Design a new incentive program or campaign that would encourage water transparency from fashion businesses.” The thought is that if there is a way to encourage companies, throughout the entire life cycle or from one specific part of the process, to be transparent about their practices then they can be held accountable. Hypothetically, this could then encourage business with sustainable practices to become leaders in the industry and help formulate new ideas, designs and incentives that might result in a profit mechanism from their transparency, essentially shifting the power and focusing more on the quality and value of the product as well as the process with which it’s made.


SDG #6: Water and Sanitation — Group Members: Antya, Evie, and Sophie


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