Sustainability is the broad narrative we were missing. It affects scientific and social, economic and anthropological topics, and its importance will only grow, alongside political and civil discourse. The world is increasingly waking up to the fact that a new approach is needed, but we still do not know how to go about it and what it really means. Different groups are moving at different speeds: some countries, companies and consumers are early adopters. But the all too large majority is yet to move in a clear, decisive direction.
Sustainability is a complex web and network of phenomena, causes and behaviours, and it cannot be analysed from a single, central point of view. It is an open system that exchanges information with the environment. It has a grid-like structure and its processes are not related to simple cause and effect, but involve many more factors.
How should we behave in such a massive, layered system? What can a company or a person wanting to change their habits do? How can we reconcile the micro-choices made by consumers with the macro-choices made by manufacturers?
The book by Francesca Rulli, Fashionisti consapevoli. Vademecum della moda sostenibile (published by Dario Flaccovio Editore) explores the rise in awareness and highlights the complex picture surrounding sustainability. Beginning with processes and ending with products. Starting with business, we learn about the sustainable supply chain, from working conditions to the environmental impact of production facilities, from chemical management to traceability and transparency, from integrity and ethics in management to relationships with stakeholders and the territory. Understanding the principles behind the processes in a supply chain is crucial because, in addition to meticulously reconstructing the various stages, we can also understand how to change our behaviour for the better. The handbook also focuses on how to communicate sustainability whilst avoiding and being able to recognise green-washing and the murky practices that harm the cause (from vague statements to clearly misleading advertising claims).
The second half of the book looks specifically at materials. From wool to cashmere, cotton to denim, polyester to nylon, silk, leather and faux leather, and the increasingly interesting trend in new fibres. Materials are something consumers can actually touch and make choices about in their purchasing decisions.
The book sets out the strengths, advantages and disadvantages of each fibre, helping consumers to make more evidence-based decisions. A more natural attitude is part of the gradual shift towards conscious consumption by building a pragmatic toolbox: how to interpret the price, how to read a label, what is the value of packaging and what are the alternatives, how to reduce microplastics.
Created out of the author’s experience in this field, the book is also the result of work done since 2013 with 4sustainability, the innovative system and brand of Process Factory (a company where the author is CEO), which measures sustainability performance in six key areas: sustainable raw materials (4s MATERIALS), chemical management (4s CHEM), traceability (4s TRACE), social dimension (4s PEOPLE) and circularity (4s CYCLE). The aim of this multidimensional implementation protocol is to take targeted action in certain areas and govern the complex yet necessary system of sustainability: to make tangible improvements and make a real contribution towards the sustainable revolution.