Archive for the ‘Green Clothes’ Category

The Conserver Economy

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

Consumer spending is slowing, out of fear of economic uncertainty, and reduced credit options.   Spending is down, but its not just that they are spending less - their spending patterns are changing.  People are seeking value, working harder to squeeze more out of their money.  One of the biggest values around is re-using goods that are already out there.  This also happens to be one of the greenest options around.

New cars are nice, but they lose a large percentage of their value as soon as you drive them off the lot.  While people are leery of used cars, there are certain great values to be had in used cars.  While new car sales have stalled, people will still be buying cars at some point, and they might turn increasingly to used cars.  While used car sales are affected by the credit crunch, dealers in some areas have reported that used car sales have decreased less than new cars, or even increased.  Used cars are also a very green option, particularly with fuel efficient used cars.  Cars take a lot of energy and materials to manufacture, so buying a used car to get more out of it helps to save that “embodied energy“. 

Used clothing is another example.  Consumers may not be flocking to the malls in the same numbers as a few months ago, but they will still be buying clothes.  Their choices may tend more toward Wal-Mart though, or quality items in thrift shops.  The Plato’s Closet chain of used clothing stores has been doing strong business, with sales in stores up over 20% in August compared to a year ago.  Franchises of Plato’s Closet or other stores owned by Winmark are available for a $20,000 fee and a percentage of weekly sales. 

Used goods may not sound eco-chic, but saving money and going green with used goods may prove highly fashionable as long as the economy remains slow.  This trend may even have a longer term green impact on the consumer economy, changing it to the conserver economy.

Green Clothes Going Carbon Neutral

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

A new eco-friendly factory in Sri Lanka owned by MAS Holdings is producing lingerie with a low carbon footprint for British retailer Marks & Spencer, as reported in the Economist  (May 31 2008).  Aiming for carbon neutrality, the factory uses simple efficiency measures like providing enough windows for natural lighting and using evaporative cooling rather than air conditioning.

The move by Marks & Spencer is part of a broader move to reduce the carbon footprint of products, examining the whole supply chain as part of the process.  Although some critics still suggest that the cost of reducing carbon emissions will cripple industry, Marks & Spencer has already found that their investments in going carbon neutral will pay for themselves in the current year, much more quickly than was expected. 

Manufacturing is only one part of the supply chain though.  The carbon footprint of a company also comes from the transportation of products, packaging, and retail space.  To help companies find the best way to reduce their overall carbon footprint, IBM has introduced the Carbon Tradeoff Modeler, balancing the goal of reducing carbon with other corporate goals involved in running the business.