UN agency partners with fashion industry to promote environmentally friendly lifestyles

2 June 2003

In a bid to promote sustainable consumption and production, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) today said it is working on a new partnership with the fashion industry to send ecologically friendly messages to consumers.

“Consumers, especially the young, are often confronted with the seemingly contradictory choice of wanting to help the planet and the hedonistic desire to buy the latest ‘must-have’ brands,” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said in Brussels today at the opening of the European Commission’s Green Week. “By working with the retail and fashion industry, we can help change attitudes towards consumption, and ultimately people’s actions.”

A growing number of professionals in the fashion and retail business are indeed responding to a latent public demand for ethical and green products and hence UNEP’s “Shopping for a Better World” initiative in support of these efforts and as part of ongoing efforts to promote “cool” green lifestyles, the agency said.

Mr. Toepfer said UNEP is working with partners in the fashion industry in order to show how sustainable lifestyles can be fashionable. “What can be more modern, more fashionable, than caring about our planet,” he stated.

“On the one hand, the retail sector can influence suppliers to produce in a more sustainable manner – raising questions of resource and energy use for example,” Mr. Toepfer said. “On the other hand, the sector is in a unique position to help the public to adopt more environmentally friendly lifestyles and purchasing habits by providing customers with an appropriate choice.”

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