Putting suppliers at the centre of policies is how brands get to improve sustainability before it’s too late.

Some producers and suppliers are already driving change in making textiles and cotton more sustainable. As producing countries are becoming consuming countries, they are responding to domestic demand for sustainability, which requires that they reduce the impact production has on their people and environment. More pressing though is the need for long-term survival; unsustainable production methods are precisely that, unsustainable—for the land, for the people, for the materials, and ultimately for the business. The families and communities that rely on the income need to ensure it can last for the longer term.

A supplier-focused approach helps ensure the industry’s efforts are grounded in reality, and takes account for the imbalance of power and influence in the sector. Importantly though, change has to be owned by suppliers with the support of influential parties, including brands and local authorities, rather than forced upon them by poorly crafted corporate sustainability policies or tick-box audits.

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