The United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals #SDGs Applied to the Fashion Industry

With Canada Day just around the corner, we are kicking our #SustainableSeneca content into high-gear! To start, let’s review the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals applied to the fashion industry.

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Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

The textile and apparel industry is usually the first industry which enters a country, offers job and economic development. Therefore it contributes to the alleviation of poverty.

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

Nobody can work if he or she is hungry, but nobody wants to live on donations. People need jobs which enables them to buy food. Therefore we need to provide people with jobs to end hunger.

Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

No child under the age of 14 should work, all children should have to right to school no matter where they live. No child labour! In some countries where child labour occurs, the fashion industry has abused children as cheap labour, often in horrible conditions. The fashion industry requires transparency and ethical standards in its supply chains and consumers need to choose carefully which brands they purchase.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

We live in a fast-paced society, and we need lifelong education just to stay aware. Education is key to development, but it is also expensive. In some countries, parents earn so little that they can’t afford to provide access to education for their children. Children are often pushed into labour from a very young age. To improve this situation, workers in developing countries must earn a living wage so that parents can send their kids to school, not to a factory.

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
The apparel industry employees millions of women worldwide for sewing garments. For many women, this income offers independence and the possibility to have a life without being married. Ensuring equitable income for women is a first step towards gender equality.

Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

As consumers in the western world, we are often addicted to cleanliness and therefore wash every garment after a single use. This is all right for socks and underwear, but not for jeans or shirts. We need to rethink our washing habits; we need to save water. This is also true for production processes in the textile industry that should use water efficiently and should avoid waster emissions into rivers and lakes.

Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

All synthetic materials are made of raw oil and therefore require a lot of energy in their production. However, often, garments made of polyester or acrylic are so cheap that we don’t value them. No matter how expensive a garment is, we need to consider whether we really need and want it. Otherwise, it is a waste of energy. We need to make sure that we save energy, for example, by avoiding the use of a laundry dryer and by using a clothing line.

Goal 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Part of the fair trade concept is that workers are treated well and get a fair payment. Therefore, fair trade is better than conventional trade, and it helps to foster sustainable growth. Consumers need to make informed purchasing decisions that support fair trade companies. Fashion companies like People Tree offer fair trade products.

Goal 9: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.

In the West, we often take our infrastructure for granted. But waste management, water sewage treatment, and even roads are part of the bigger picture of sustainable development. We need to make sure that corporations produce their products in developing countries not by exploiting the lack of infrastructure in these countries, but by instead helping to create it. For example, instead of discharging coloured water from dyes directly into rivers, wastewater treatments must be built.

Goal 10: Reduce inequality within and among countries.

Developing countries need economic growth for development. Countries like China and India made huge development gains partly through the apparel and textile industry. The apparel industry helps to reduce inequality in the world, like providing jobs for many people who can’t read or write. However, if people are used as slaves and forced to work, with wages below minimum averages, with long, forced working hours in unsafe conditions, and without the right for communication or self-organisation, then we are nonetheless producing inequality. We need to start asking where our garments are made, and by whom. We need transparency in our supply chains.

Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

Today, more than half the world’s population lives in cities. Despite numerous planning challenges, cities offer more efficient economies of scale on many levels, including the provision of goods, services and transportation. However, we all need to make sure that cities keep their personality and that people stay connected. We need to support our local charities like Goodwill Industries and the Salvation Army by donating our unwanted garments or household materials. Such donations will help to build local community, support people in need and provide local jobs.

Goal 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Apparel consumption in North America has increased substantially to a level unparalleled in history. This increased consumption enlarged the industry’s environmental burden: every garment, irrespective of price, requires resources and causes pollution. While the industry partially recognizes its unsustainable practices, it does not accept limitations of the environment and is instead “built on the principle of limitless growth” aiming to sell more garments every year. We as consumers, need to reconsider our consumption habits. Less can be more!

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The majority of our unwanted garments end up in landfills. While synthetic materials will stay forever in our landfills, organic materials, such as cotton, hemp, or bamboo will biodegrade and release Co2 and methane. Both are greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. To keep unwanted textiles out of landfills: donate all garments.

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Growing cotton requires a lot of water. Just think of the Aral Sea: formerly one of the biggest inland lakes in the world, it completely dried out when the government of Uzbekistan decided to use its water to irrigate cotton fields. When the lake dried out, all fisheries and sea life in it were lost. Such unsustainable use of resources compromises future generations. We need to start asking what materials are our garments made of, where these materials originate, and how they are made. Only transparency can give consumers the power to make informed, better decisions. Start asking!

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Cutting down rainforests to use the wood as cellulosic raw material to produce viscose, a material with similar characteristics as cotton, not only destroys ecosystems, but it also contributes to climate change. We need to make sure that cellulosic material is only produced in sustainably managed forests. We need to ask where the material coming from is, and we need to consume less.

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

Although there are hundreds of countries, there is only one world. We can only solve the problems and challenges of our world when every country and nation and every individual contributes. Be a good citizen and help wherever you can to be responsible.

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Governments have a responsibility to hold businesses accountable and should follow the UK’s lead by signing the modern slavery act. The Modern Slavery Act requires medium to large-sized companies, businesses of thirty-six million dollar turnover or more, to report on what they are doing to eradicate slavery from their supply chains. This means each company is legally obliged to do this or explain why not.  We need world governments to take responsibility for their nation’s business practices overseas. For example, Canada needs a modern slavery act like the UK. It’s unacceptable that countries have signed the UN business and human rights responsibility act, but no one enforces it.

Seneca and University of the Arts London (UAL) sign MOU to expand student pathways

Heather Pickard shaking hands with President David Agnew
Heather Pickard, Dean of the Fashion Business School at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London and David Agnew, Seneca President, sign an MOU to enhance educational opportunities for students at both institutions. This Partnership will enhance educational opportunities for Seneca and UAL students and faculty.

Seneca College signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to officially partner with the University of the Arts London (UAL) to enhance educational opportunities for students and faculty. The signing took place at Seneca’s Newnham Campus between David Agnew, Seneca President and Heather Pickard, Dean of the Fashion Business School at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London on May 2, 2019.

The MOU was signed to strengthen ties between the two institutions and lead to the future establishment of partnership agreements, exchange opportunities, academic co-operation and other areas of innovative collaboration.

“We are delighted to partner with UAL to bring a global perspective to our students. Signing this MOU furthers Seneca’s commitment to meeting the expectations of internationally connected students and expanding our partnerships with world-renowned institutions,” said David Agnew, Seneca President.

An articulation agreement was also signed yesterday, which will allow Seneca        Fashion Business diploma students to pathway into UAL’s BA (Hons) Fashion Marketing degree program and Seneca Visual Merchandising Arts diploma students to pathway into UAL’s BA (Hons) Fashion Visual Merchandising and Branding degree program at London College of Fashion. The partnership will also explore how UAL and Seneca can support faculty exchanges, joint research projects and student collaboration initially at London College of Fashion and with future possibilities being considered with the other colleges.

“University of the Arts London welcomes the establishment of this MOU to develop staff and student opportunities with Seneca College. It further strengthens our commitment to deepening relationships with Canada,” commented Heather Pickard, Dean Fashion Business School, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.

The MOU formalizes a positive relationship between the two institutions. UAL is Europe’s largest specialist art and design university, recently ranked No. 2 in the world for Art and Design education by QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2019. UAL is made up of six renowned colleges that offer a wide range of programs in art, design, fashion, media, communication and performing arts.

For more information on Seneca College and UAL, view the media release

Alumni Spotlight: Jenna Strano

 

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Full name:  Jenna Strano

 

Program: Fashion Business Management

 

Grad Year: 2018

 

Current Position: Undergraduate Student, Fashion Marketing and Retail Design at the University of South Wales

 

What is your favourite Seneca memory?

My favourite Seneca memory is when I realized that I had chosen the right program for myself, and that made me feel confident in my future after graduation. A big part of realizing I had chosen the right program came down to my second year of studies. My most fond memories of the second year are the teamwork assignments that helped me grow as a person, studying with my friends and realizing that I’m not the only one struggling and lastly still being able to have fun even when it feels like your drowning in school and work.

What was your favourite campus hang out spot?

My favourite campus hang out spots were the booths near Starbucks because they were comfortable, quiet and most importantly you could get in line for your coffee first.

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same degree as you, what would it be?

My advice would be to always remain positive and don’t forget to have fun. You won’t always love each class you’re taking but it is teaching you something valuable and there will be classes that you excel at and absolutely love!

How has your career evolved?

I am about to begin the Fashion Marketing and Retail Design course (Year 3) at the University of South Wales. This is an opportunity that was presented to me by a fellow classmate, and it’s something I never considered. I was eager to start my career, but I realized I wanted to learn more about the marketing side of the fashion industry and I’m keen that the program is in Cardiff, Wales.

How did your Seneca, Fashion Business Management diploma help you get to where you are now/your current career?

Without my advanced diploma from Seneca, I would not be able to study at the University of South Wales, because the credits that I took at Seneca transferred over to the university and now I am fortunate enough to jump right into the third year and get my BA, after one more year of studying fashion.

Do you have any other thoughts or memories you would like to share?

Without the help of my many caring professors, I would not have had the confidence or dedication to be studying in Wales and I would like to thank all of them for always making me feel welcome to share and ask anything. My positivity in the program and the courses comes from the very dedicated professors and I am so glad I chose Seneca as the school to start my studies.

CREA Charette

On October 1st, eight students from Fashion Business and Fashion Business Management took part in the second annual CREA (Canadian Retail Education Association) Charette at Ryerson University. The Charrette is an intensive, interdisciplinary team learning experience. CREA works with retail industry partners to identify a “real life” problem scenario, which will be revealed to teams on day one before collaborating to design a solution within a specified time limit. This year’s charrette client was Beauleigh Retail Leasing Consultants Inc. who brought forward the challenge of Retail Revitalization at Toronto’s Union Station. Teams were tasked with developing a retail concept for a 680 square foot unit for the Front Street Promenade in Toronto’s Union Station. The requirements of the retail idea needed to be original to the city of Toronto, and unique, authentic, fresh, and trendy to animate the retail space at the historic Union Station. The competition featured students from Fanshawe, Ryerson, Humber, Seneca, and George Brown. Earthly Ink was the winning concept, followed by the idea for Maple Bar. Congratulations to all the students for their participation!

 

Alumni Spotlight: Nicole Birch

Nicole Birch_Studio Eleven imageFull name: Nicole Birch

Program: Fashion Business Management

Grad Year: 2009

Current Position: Store Owner – Studio Eleven in Orillia

What is your favourite Seneca memory?

One of my favourite memories from Seneca would be running the Seneca boutique with my classmates. I found it so fun, very hands-on, this class gave each individual different responsibility. I also always hoped to own my own store so I enjoyed this very much!

If you could give one piece of advice to a student completing the same program as you, what would it be?

To be patient when it comes to finding a position after you’ve finished the program. The retail industry can be tough, but amazing! You will always have to start off small in an entry-level position, but do everything you can to gain any experience.

How has your career evolved?

After I graduated from Seneca, I started working in the buying industry first as an assistant then as a buyer. I have worked for a few different major retailers like Zellers, Joe Fresh and Jones of New York.

After a company closure, I re-evaluated what I wanted to do next which was owning a clothing store.  One thing that really attracted me to the Fashion Business Management program is the entrepreneurial aspect along with fashion. Since April 2017 I have been a store owner!

How did your Seneca program help you get to where you are now/your current career?

This program has helped me immensely! I knew from day one I was going to be in the retail industry if it was either in a head office or on my own. This program has shown & helped with everything from buying, visual merchandising, entrepreneurship to business plans.

 

School of Fashion Career Networking Night 2018

On Monday, October 1st Seneca’s School of Fashion welcomed 25 companies to the Great Hall. The event was an opportunity for companies and our students to network and learn more about each other. Career opportunities and paths were of special interest to our students and they had the chance to speak with the most knowledgeable of representatives from companies such as Nordstrom, RW & Co, Sephora, Shoppers Drug Mart, Clinique, Holt Renfrew, Footlocker, Elmwood Spa, Rexall, The Ten Spot, HBC & Saks, Sanctuary Day Spa, NYX and more!