Sustainable Transition

The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world where quality of apparel is lacking and ethical production conditions are overlooked. It is mainly driven by the fast fashion designers, which is known for low cost clothing based on high-cost trends that encourages consumers, with at least 16 collections per year, to buy the latest look. The environmental impacts of this industry is alarming and a transition of the fashion industry have to happen.

This post represents the first post in a four-part series regarding sustainable transition of the fashion industry. Stine and I are this semester following a course about Sustainable Transition at our master’s degree to become Sustainable Design Engineers [1]. So this will hopefully give some more efficient details about how a transition of the fashion industry can come about. The main goal with the series is therefore to answer the overall question: How can Sustainable Design Engineers support the needed transition to sustainability?

In order to answer this overall question, transition viewed from the following different angles will be answered:

  • What is a transition challenge and what roles have engineers had in the development of technological systems?
  • Design a transition strategy using inspiration from Strategic Niche Management (SNM) or Transition Management (TM).
  • Design a transition strategy using inspiration from Arenas of Development (AoD) or Technological Innovation Systems (TIS).

Through the four posts we will in collaboration try to answer these question using transition theory and real life cases.

To get into depth with the topic of sustainable transition a clarification of it is needed. The  Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN) define sustainable transition in their Mission statement and research agenda’ as the following [2]:

“The starting point for transitions research is a recognition that many environmental problems, such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, resource depletion (clean water, oil, forests, fish stocks), are formidable societal challenges, whose solution requires deep- structural changes in key areas of human activity, including our transport, energy, agri- food, housing, manufacturing, leisure and for sustainable development is the fact that existing systems tend to be very difficult to ‘dislodge’ because they are stabilized by various lock-in processes that lead to path dependent developments and ‘entrapment’.”

We hope the series will give a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms that drives a sustainable transition. 

[1] http://www.sustainabledesign.aau.dk/MasterAim/?languageId=1 

[2] Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), 2010. Mission statement and research agenda. Retrieved from: http://www.transitionsnetwork.org/files/STRN_research_agenda_20_August_2010(2).pdf 

[3] Photo by Spade + Silk. http://spadesandsilk.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Ada6Comp-1050×787.jpg

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Dorte Mindegaard

Dorte has a deep interest in contributing to a sustainable transition of the society and also of the fashion industry. Every link of the production chain of clothes has a severe bad impact on human and the environment, which Dorte believes could be reduced by legislation, consumer mentality change and awareness. She is studying an engineering master in Sustainable Design at Aalborg University in Copenhagen and has recently been in Australia at James Cook University to specialize further in sustainable transition.

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