Is a penny on a garment enough to tackle environmental issues?

Adding a penny to clothes to fund recycling scheme

Today MPs called for there to be a penny added to every item of clothing to fund a £35m annual recycling scheme.

shirts on clothes rail various colours“Fast fashion” is the term that has been given to the clothing industry where clothes are being worn very few times and sent to landfill. In the BBC report 235 million articles of clothing were sent to landfill in the UK last year. 700,000 fibres released in a single domestic wash. In 2015 1.2bn tonnes of carbon emissions were produced by the global fashion industry.

Focus on plastics and food waste not clothing?

There has been (rightly) a huge focus on plastic as the public’s minds have become engaged with the issue thanks to programmes like Blue Planet. Similarly with food waste. But the clothing industry is doing just as much damage to the environment. It contributes hugely to greenhouse gases, water and air pollution and over-use of water. But are the people who are trying to reduce their use of plastics and encourage industry to make changes the same people who are wearing clothes once, being seen in social media in it and then disposing of it?

We need our MPs to do more in challenging companies. A penny a garment isn’t enough. The law also needs to be enforced to ensure that companies are paying at least the minimum wage so that clothes aren’t being made so cheaply it encourages people to throw away items. A change in the voluntary to compulsory agreements to reduce environmental impact and their involvement in what can be done to work in partnership with consumers regarding clothes they no longer want. Vouchers, clothes swaps, using recyclable materials so they can reuse etc.

What are stores doing to tackle clothes waste?

Well, Marks and Spencer runs its Plan A because there is no Plan B scheme. This includes giving customers a £5 voucher to spend in Marks and Spencer for purchases over 335 when they return items through Oxfam. But little is heard about this now? This is part of a larger programme and is working towards being more environmentally friendly by 2025.

ASOS sourcing programmes involves looking at  how to design, source and innovate to create more sustainable products.

Adidas joins the fight against plastic pledging it will use only recycled plastics by 2024.

There are and will be others. But it comes of no surprise to see that MPs say that they have had no commitments from the big bad boys, JD Sports, Sports Direct and Amazon UK who are amongst companies providing little to no detail on doing anything to help save the planet. That will be greed then.

Are companies doing enough to reduce negative environmental impact?

Let’s face it – companies can look for alternatives to plastic packaging which won’t necessarily affect costs to them or consumers. When it comes to fashion though, we are, in essence, amongst other measure, looking at expecting companies to actually sell fewer items! We need to encourage people to reduce their clothes waste which means buying fewer things.

Although the proposed scheme to add a penny to a garment would help recycling schemes there is more that could be done. There are signs that companies are waking up to looking at making responsible textiles and yarns and perhaps as this idea develops, the more environmentally friendly companies will become the ones of choice for the customer.

Unsurprisingly the voluntary approach to improving the sustainability of the fashion industry is failing – with just 11 fashion retailers signed up to an agreement to reduce their water, waste and carbon footprints. (As reported by the BBC.)

What can consumers do to reduce clothes waste?

We need to educate people more around the impact of the current  throwaway culture. People who have been seen in an item on social media and say they can’t wear it again! Ridiculous but true.  Let’s encourage people to look at it as a positive move rather than a negative one.  Be proud of wearing something more than one once!

Give things to charity helping both the charity, the person buying the item and keeping them in wardrobes not landfill.

Sell clothes on auction sites or for free on GumTree and Facebook pages.

Upcycle. Make changes to clothes, adding bling, cutting trousers into shorts etc.

Using charity shops.

Buy from companies working toward environmentally friendly practices and sustainability.

 

 

What else can we do to encourage responsible use of textiles, materials and clothes?

 

 

 

 

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Cuts in Tesco staff will mean worse customer service

Tesco was in the news again last week and so of course, given my history with Tesco, I couldn’t let it go without comment!

Tesco announces cuts to its business

#tescofail back to school sign over alcohol

Tesco announced last week that it was going to cut about 9,000 jobs. Well, the BBC announced it first jn their story Tesco counter cost cuts to hit 9,000 jobs, based on leaked information which said that the supermarket chain would be closing 90 counters and that bakeries would be using frozen dough. Tesco was then forced to issue a statement so that the BBC and others updated their stories.

The Tesco statement Building a simpler, more sustainable business said that “We expect that around 90 stores will close their counters, with the remaining 700 trading with either a full or flexible counter offer for our customers.” The supermarket giant is to make changes to stock management, reducing merchandising hours through simplification of layouts, changes to canteens and changes to make the head office leaner. Ultimately the changes will result in a loss of 9,000 jobs.

The statement says that Tesco colleagues have told them that they want to spend more time with customers. However in the same paragraph the company says it is reducing “the amount of layout changes we make, so it’s easier for customers, and less work for colleagues meaning fewer merchandising hours are needed.” In short, that’s not freeing up staff to serve customers is it?!

Backdrop to Tesco cuts

In the Tesco 3Q & Christmas Trading Statement 2018/19 CEO, Dave Lewis, said

photo of Dave Lewis“In the UK we delivered significant improvements in our competitive offer and this is reflected in a very strong Christmas performance which was ahead of the market. And “… as we enter our Centenary we are in a strong position.”

 

The company made 1.3 billion profit in 2017-2018 So why the cuts? Are they necessary? What will they mean for staff and customers? Is greed seeping into Tesco once again? In my blog article “The Real Reason Clarke was pushed” I explored how the previous CEO, Phillip Clarke, didn’t keep his eyes on his customers. Instead of watching his home market he went on a development spree round the world whilst in the UK Tesco kept losing money. Lewis’ answer was to close loss-making branches abroad and cut development of some planned stores in the UK. Jobs went from head office and one of the company’s larger offices closed down as staff relocated to the head office complex at Welwyn Garden City. Lewis has overseen a turnaround in Tesco’s fortune as customers return in their thousands. Is he now going too far in the other direction and losing sight of what customers want? Why risk what is going on at shop floor level where customers will be adversely affected? They weren’t affected directly by previous cost cutting activities but they will be with these changes. If cuts are really needed (and that is clearly questionable) should they not be evenly distributed across the whole business?

What will the Tesco cuts on the shop floor mean for staff?

Well, Tesco say that they “will be doing all [they] can to help colleagues affected by these changes, including offering redeployment opportunities wherever possible.” With a planned cut to 9,000 jobs, redeploying them all is unlikely.

Are all Tesco staff employed on an equal basis?

Nope. Whilst staff will see job losses it seems there are no plans to cut the salary or benefits for any members of the executive team. If there is a need to cut because there isn’t enough profit then why are those in charge being paid as if they were continuing the success? Is it because of greed from shareholders seeking more from the firm in dividends?

What will the cuts mean for customers and what will be the impact on Tesco?

It’s too early to tell, but other supermarkets will be watching with keen interest. Tesco say that it is cutting the counters because there is less interest in them in recent years. That’s probably due to the increase in online shopping. However, with all this cost cutting, presumably to try and compete with the discount supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl, will Tesco just become one and the same? What happened to having a good range, good price and good service? Even if they can’t compete with the higher end supermarkets, such as Waitrose, why not fight for the top of the middle market? Is it a fight to the bottom? It looks to me like a short-term quick fix where the aim is to maximise profits regardless of quality and see what happens. It doesn’t look like a well thought-out plan.

Perhaps Tesco should be a bit more innovative and open up those counters to the local butchers and bakeries? Just rent out the space whilst offering more choice and helping local businesses. There are plenty of other ways of saving money and introducing innovative improvements to customer services rather than cut, cut, cut.

Tesco risks losing the goodwill of customers. It is going to harm employee relations without a doubt and could therefore damage the public image of Tesco. Tesco should be celebrating its centenary this year and laying off 9,000 loyal staff is not the kind of birthday present the company should be giving itself

What’s needed is more service, and less greed!

 

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