Green growth vs. economic development with pollution. Throw-away society vs. sustainability

The role of the customer in the context of sustainability, consumption and waste reduction

Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar), 2016

57 Seiten, Note: 1,3


Table of Content

List of Abbreviations

List of Figures

1 General Insights in throw-away society and sustainability

2 Waste of Clothing
2.1 What is fair fashion?
2.2 Lifecycle of a cotton textile
2.3 Responsibility of the fashion industry
2.3.1 Ecological
2.3.2 Health and ethical
2.3.3 The sustainable lifecycle of a cotton textile – a solution
2.4 Responsibility of the consumer
2.5 Conclusion – What can be changed

3 Organic food as a solution for sustainable nutrition
3.1 Definition of organic food
3.2 Chances and risks of sustainable nutrition and organic food
3.3 Consumers’ motivation for buying organic food
3.4 Recommendations given by BCFN (Barilla Center for food & nutrition)
3.5 Conclusion and recommendations

4 Washing
4.1 Detergents – harmful to the environment
4.2 Detergents – historical background and legal specifications
4.3 Environmental responsibilities of companies
4.3.1 Product types
4.3.2 Protection of resources
4.3.3 Water management
4.3.4 Worth from waste
4.3.5 Social responsibilities
4.4 Environmental responsibilities of consumers
4.4.1 Washing at low temperatures but long washing times
4.4.2 Loading the washing machine right
4.4.3 Right dosage of detergent
4.4.4 Labels of environmental friendly products
4.5 Conclusion

5 General insights in waste of clothing, food and e-waste
5.1 Waste of Clothing
5.1.1 Reasons for disposal
5.1.2 Ways to reduce waste
5.2 Waste of Food
5.2.1 Reasons for disposal
5.2.2 Ways to reduce waste
5.3 Waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)
5.3.1 Reasons for disposal
5.3.2 Ways to reduce waste

6 Limitations

7 Implications and future research

List of Abbreviations

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List of Figures

Figure 1 Triangle of sustainability (Institut Bauen und Umwelt, 2016)

Figure 2 Lifecycle of a cotton textile (own figure, based on Baier &Frese, 2005, p.2)

Figure 3 Statutory minimum wage and living wage (Luginbühl & Musiolek, 2014)

Figure 4 The sustainable lifycycle of a cotton textile (own expanded figure, based on BAier & Frese, 2005, p.2)

Figure 5 Sectors producing the greenhouse gas emissions of European families, Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, 2015, p. 81

Figure 6 The double pyramide of BCFN, (Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition, 2015, p. 14-15)

Figure 7 Population in Germany with attitude ‚I prefer using environmentally friendly household cleaners and detergents‘ (2010 to 2013, in million), (own expanded figure, based on statista 2015)

Figure 8 Attitude towards buying environmentally friendly products, (own expanded figure, based on statista 2015)

Figure 9 Production, transport and use phase of detergents, (own expanded figure, based on Wagner 2010, p. 292)

Figure 10 Eco-labeling - Ecolabel, Der Blaue Engel, sustainable cleaning, Bayerisches Landesamt für Umwelt 2013

Figure 11 Life cycle assessment-g CO2-EQ/wash, (own expanded figure, based on Wagner 2010, p. 280)

Figure 12 Percentage environment effects in the detergents whole life cycle, Wagner 2010, p. 278

Figure 13 Conceptual model of reasons for textile disposal behavior (Morgan et al. 2009, p.193)

Figure 14 Per capita food losses and waste, at consumption and pre-consumptions stages, in different regions (Gustavsson et al., 2011, p. 5)

Figure 15 Part of the initial production lost or wasted at different stages of the FSC for fruits and vegetables in different regions (Gustavsson et al. ,2011, p.7)

Figure 16 Campaign of Intermarché of mishaped fruits and vegetables (Cliff, 2014)

Figure 17 Loop of the material cycle of WEEE, (Khetriwal et al., 2009, pp. 4–5)

1 General Insights in throw-away society and sustainability

In his Oscar speech, on the 28th of February 2016, even Leonardo DiCaprio, a famous actor, took the opportunity of speaking in front of many people and focuses on the environmental issue we are facing right now:

“Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating. We need to support leaders around the world who do not speak for the big polluters, but who speak for all of humanity, for the indigenous people of the world, for the billions and billions of underprivileged people out there who would be most affected by this.“(Griffiths, 2016)

In this few sentences, the actor brings it to the point: climate change is real and everybody can do something. When thinking about pollution, one might think about the “big polluters”, as the actors indicates (Griffiths, 2016).And indeed, most of literature focuses on the role of the industry and their impact on climate pollution. But, we cannot deny the fact that also the people, i.e. the customer should do something. We can see the importance of the customer when looking at the economic formula for the equilibrium level of national income:

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The letter C stands for domestic household consumption of goods and services, I stands for domestic real investment, G for government spendings on goods and services and (X-M) stands for exports minus imports of goods and services. This formular represents the aggregate demand function. As we can see in this formular, consumption plays a crucial role in economy (Pettinger, 31.January 2008).

Another part of facing climate change is to focus on the aspect of sustainability. Figure 1 shows the triangle of sustainability. Sustainability affects economic, environmental and socio-cultural issues.

In this theses we would like to combine sustainability and the consumer side of view. The goal of our paper is to analyze the different areas, where goods are consumed and how waste can be reduced in this areas. This paper will focus on the role of the customer in the context of sustainability, consumption and waste reduction.

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We start with the theoretical consideration how clothing /garmin is consumed by the customer. Then we want to shift the focus on different forms of food. Food can contribute to green growth and growth with pollution on both sides. In this section we want to outline the relationship between organic food and sustainable nutrition. Which way of nutrition and consumers’ behavior is important for enhancing global sustainability? Furthermore, these questions are viewed by aspects that influence with consumers’ behavior, for example the role of the economy, socio-economic factors and the environment. After talking about these external factors, we are having a closer look concerning the internal consumer orientated factors, called motivation. What drives the consumer to buy certain food or not? At the end of this chapter there is an individual recommendation for consumers. In the next part, we pay attention to washing/ detergents and their impact on sustainability. In the last chapter of our thesis, the topic waste will be explained and the mechanism in the three areas clothing, food and washing to reduce the waste made by the consumer will be presented. In the end, we present our findings and evaluate these results to provide recommendations and derive implications for the future research.

2 Waste of Clothing

Clothing and fashion are present topics in every household. There is a rising demand of fashion because of several reasons. One reason for this demand are the more frequent changing fashion lines. A second reason is the development of the psychological marketing, trying to promote customer impulses for buying fashion. This is complemented by a lot of people who name shopping as a favorite leisure activity and the last reason is the low prices. (Jackson, 2014)

These are a lot of reasons, caused by every single household, that need to be changed.

The explained demand increases the waste of clothing, for example an average U.S. citizen trashes about 32 kilogram of clothing every year and the kilogram of discarding in other first world countries is a quite similar number. (Jackson, 2014).

This behavior is going to cause in the one side ecological problems and on the other side ethical ones. 17 to 20 % of the industrial water pollution is caused by the fashion industry. A result of dyeing and treatment and the usage of about 8000 different chemicals which are used to generate fashion out if raw materials.. Additionally 2.6% of the global water demand is caused by the cotton which is used to create textile. This water demand and pollution will lead to an exceed of the supply to the demand of water by 40 % by 2030. (Jackson, 2014).

An also important aspect of this are the poor conditions for workers in the textile industry, regarding safety, health and ethical aspects. (Muthu, 2015, p. 272)

Regarding this facts about the current situation some basic questions come up which will be clarified in the following chapters, based on the main issue how to act sustainable. What about fair fashion, what is it and what is the outcome? Furthermore, what are the responsibilities of the fashion industry and what are those of the consumer? For this the insights of the fashion industry should be clear, how does cotton become a white shirt and what impacts on the environment and the society does the measurement mean? In the end all this questions should be clear.

2.1 What is fair fashion?

Several labels and signs stand for fair fashion, sustainable fashion, eco labels and a lot of other terms, which can be seen in the following definitions. There is need to clarify how this ethical, fair and sustainable fashion is defined.

One Standard definition is given by the International Standards Organization (ISO), they define eco-fashion as “identifying the general environmental performance of a product within a product group based on its whole life-cycle in order to contribute to improvements in key environmental measures and to support sustainable consumption patterns.” (Claudio, 2007).

Sustainable is defined as “involving the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment” and “that can continue or be continued for a long time”. (Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 1548). According to a cutout of the full definition, fair is “acceptable and appropriate in a particular situation” and “treating people equally – treating everyone equally and according to the rules or law”. (Oxford University Press, 2005, p.548). And also the word ethical fits logically in this definitions: “1 connected in beliefs and principles about what is right and wrong […] 2 morally correct or acceptable”. (Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 520).

Based on this a lot of labels can be found, that name themselves in one of this ways, and also a lot of seals, which sign labels as fair, ethical or sustainable. A short overview of important aspects of some popular seals is following.

GOTS: (Global Organic Textile Standard International Working Group, 2014)

- more than 70 % of fibers of controlled biological cultivation
- 10% synthetic fibers are allowed in socks and leggings and 25% in sportswear
- no use of genetic manipulated seeds
- no use of harmful chemicals
- save and ethical working conditions (including working time)
- minimum wage
- offering a regular employment

FAIR WEAR:(Fair Wear Foundation, 2009)

- save and healthy working conditions (including working time)
- living wage
- legally binding employment contracts
- regular supplier controls

FAIRTRADE CERTIFIED COTTON:(Christliche Initiative Romero, 2012, p. 40 f.)

- fairtrade - bonus
- no use of genetic manipulated seeds
- minimum wage guarantee
- locally education and advice
- save and ethical working conditions

2.2 Lifecycle of a cotton textile

To understand the insights of the fashion industry the lifecycle of a white shirt will be explained in the following chapter. Because of globalization it is possible to wear clothes, produced and grown in several different countries, in nearly every country of the world. Globalization is also responsible for the lowest prices beside the widest spread. (Claudio, 2007).Also cotton produces waste, all the pesticides used to strengthen the plants and guarantee a high production rate to conduct a bigger harvest cause damages to the environment. (Claudio, 2007).Every single step of this lifecycle, displayed in figure 2 can have various different impacts on humans and the environment.

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Figure 2 Lifecycle of a cotton textile (own figure, based on Baier &Frese, 2005, p.2)

The responsibilities of the industry and every single consumer are explained in the following chapters.

2.3 Responsibility of the fashion industry

On the one hand there is the fashion industry, which produce and sell clothes and on the other hand there is the consumer, who buys this clothes. So it´s the responsibility of both of them to change the actual situation. The following chapter focuses on the responsibility of the fashion industry, ecological and health and ethical problems are shown, which need a change. Afterwards a solution in the form of a sustainable lifecycle of a cotton textile is displayed.

2.3.1 Ecological

Regarding the enormous resource consumption in the fashion industry also the usage of cotton has risen to 25 million tons in 30 years, this means also the cotton fields have grown. (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007, p.3)

There is a lot of more different sorts of fiber used than cotton, for example polyester. Polyester is a synthetic material made out of petroleum and is the most manufactured fiber. Synthetic materials cause an energy intensive process and emission of acid gases, for example hydrogen chloride, and of volatile organic compounds completed by a big amount of crude oil, when manufacturing with them. This explained problems are going to raise because of the demand of polyester is nearly doubled in the last 15 years. (Breyer, 2012). That means polyester is now the most used fiber. (Fletcher, 2008, p. 6)

From 1960 to 2000“ the Aral Sea lost approximately 70% of its volume as a result of diverting water to grow cotton in the desert.” Caused by over 53% of the global cotton fields that need watering because of regional water shortage. (Jackson, 2014)

Each ton of dyed fabric needs 200 tons of water in a single mill in China, this colours reappear in many rivers, which are intoxicated by the dyes wash off from the mills. “As of February 20th, 2012, the China Pollution Map Database had 6,000 records of textile factories violating environmental regulations, including: discharging wastewater from hidden pipes; discharging untreated pollutants; improper use of wastewater treatment facilities; exceeding total pollutant discharge allowed; and using production facilities that were shut down by the authorities for various reasons.” (Breyer, 2012). Also in India, in the region Tirupur, most of the 750 factories which dye and bleach run their waste water without cleansing into the nearby river Noyyal. (Starmanns, 2010, p. 26 ff.).

Additionally in Brasil twelve different pesticides can be proved in the rainwater, these pesticides are used on the regional cotton fields. (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007, p.3)

Cultivating mono cultures and the usage of pesticides and fertilizers lead to a lot of negative impacts in an ecological way. Among others this impacts are serious health problems, less soil fertility, loss of bio diversity, pollution of water, air and ground and a higher resistance of insects and more parasites. (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007, p. 3; Fletcher, 2008, p. 8 f.). Studies show, that this pesticides, used to cultivate cotton, may be evidenced later in the clothing. (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007, p. 3).

2.3.2 Health and ethical

Cotton is cultivated in the USA, after the harvest the cotton is sent to China because of their low production prices. There the fashion is made. China is the largest exporter with 30 % of full exporting in clothing sector. The workers have poor conditions, they work for 12-18 cents per hour in the fashion sector. That´s why China is able to have lowest prices in the world competition, by paying nearly no wage and the production costs are at the minimum according to figures of the U.S. National Labor Committee and the UN Commodity Trade Statistics database. (Claudio, 2007).

Synthetic materials, like polyester, and their by-products can cause respiratory disease. (Claudio, 2007).

Supplemented by the pesticides, which are used on the cotton fields, which contaminate the rivers and mean health impairment for the workers. (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007, p.3). For example in Uzbekistan pesticides were used, which are that toxic that they were prohibited in the Soviet Union, because of intoxicating the air and the floor. (Environmental Justice Foundation, 2007, p.3).

For dyeing, bleaching, tanning and marking textiles chemicals are used. (Baier&Frese, 2005, P.2). Explicitly this chemicals are nonylphenolethoxylates (NPE) and other alkylphenolethoxylates (APEO) as well as additional dangerous substances. Among others they are able to damage the endocrine system. (Greenpeace, 2012, p. 7 f.). NPEs are often used in the textile sector. Greenpeace bought 141 clothes in 29 different countries and found NPE in 63 % of them. (Greenpeace, 2012, p. 3). Furthermore in four clothes they found concentrations of harmful Phtalates and two of them contained cancer-causing amines. Because of this chemicals are washed out of the clothes by normal washing, this chemicals can also be found in german waters. (Greenpeace, 2012, p.7). Moreover the fashion industry uses formaldehydes, which can cause contact allergies and substances to prevent fungal infestations while transporting, they can reduce fertility and attack the nervous system. Because of this reasons they are prohibited in the EU, but they are imported from the non EU manufactures. (Lexikon der Nachhaltigkeit, 2014).

For reasons of cost a lot of production of the fashion industry has been outsourced to third world countries. That´s why new workplaces were created in this countries. (Starmanns, 2010, p. 26). in contrast to this, in Germany the workplaces declined from half a million in 1990 to 167000 in 2002. (Haas & Zademach, 2010, p. 31).

Cotton cultivation is subsidized in the USA since years. Because of this it is possible to have a good quality which is cheap. This fact is also criticized to impact the prices on the global market and by this farmers in other countries are no longer able to competed the cheap prices. (Allwood et al, 2006, p.58). the World Trade Organization (WTO) already exerted pressure on the USA to minimize their subsidies, the USA agreed but still subsidize. According to estimates the global market price would raise about 12.9 %, if there would no longer be subsidies from the US. (Barry, 2006, p.11)

In contrast to this are the subsidies and import duties minimized in India. As a result Indian farmers need to competed with the subsidies of the USA and the thereby accrued global market prices. (Schmitt, 2006).

Wages in the textile industry are very low. While the revenue and profit is rising in this branch the wages of the workers lower. (McMullen & Maher, 2011, p. 1). In august 2013 the monthly minimum wage in the fashion industry was 29 € in Bangladesh (ILO, 2013, p. 2). This is raised in 2013 to 50 €, still not enough to cover the living expenses. (Luginbühl&Musiolek, 2014).

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The above figure shows the percentage living wage, in different countries in East Europe and Asia, measured on the statutory minimum wage workers receive in the fashion industry. Coming to the point, the part of the minimum wage measured on the living wage is under 50% in every country, except of Malaysia. Another important point regarding ethical aspects in the fashion industry are working hours. In countries in Asia (like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India, Kambodscha, Indonasia, China and Malaysia) twelve hours without lunch break are normal working hours. As a result the employees work for 70 hours and six days per week. (Knieli, 2009, p. 25).

2.3.3 The sustainable lifecycle of a cotton textile – a solution

As a solution, to change all this impacts and problems, the fashion industry should act more sustainable. On the one hand it is possible to act like explained in chapter 2.1. In addition figure 4 - The sustainable lifecycle of a cotton textile also shows a solution – a “green” way – for acting more environmental-friendly, fair and sustainable, based on the already explained improvements.

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Ende der Leseprobe aus 57 Seiten


Green growth vs. economic development with pollution. Throw-away society vs. sustainability
The role of the customer in the context of sustainability, consumption and waste reduction
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
1911 KB
Environment, Global Economics, pollution, economics, nature, BWL, Wegwerfgesellschaft, gesellschaftliche Verantwortung, sustainability
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Markus Reiter (Autor:in), 2016, Green growth vs. economic development with pollution. Throw-away society vs. sustainability, München, GRIN Verlag,


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