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duurzame mode in Rotterdam

Op duurzame mode tour!

Als ik praat met vrienden of bekenden over duurzame mode – eigenlijk: met mensen die er niet al op een bepaalde manier bewust mee bezig zijn – is de reactie vaak dat ze hier zelf ook wel rekening mee willen houden maar niet weten hoe of waar te beginnen. Dat was ook één van de voorlopige uitkomsten van een klein onderzoek dat ik heb lopen. Daarmee wil ik meer inzicht krijgen in het type informatie dat mensen helpt om bewustere en duurzamere keuzes te maken over hun kleding. (Reacties zijn overigens nog steeds welkom!).

Terwijl, vaak is duurzame kleding al veel dichterbij dan veel mensen zich realiseren.

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De kledingbibliotheek: het toekomstmodel voor de mode?

De laatste tijd verschijnen er regelmatig berichten over de opkomst van het huren en lenen van kleding. Over mainstream gesproken: mijn schoonvader appte me zelfs omdat het er over ging in het NOS journaal. De mensen in mijn omgeving weten dat ik mijn kleding leen. Intussen ben ik al 2,5 jaar naar volle tevredenheid lid bij kledingbibliotheek Bij Priester in Den Haag.

Maar: hoe werkt het nou precies als je kleding leent? Ik merk dat de berichtgeving vaak niet de kern raakt van hoe ik het ervaar – en juist díe ervaring zorgt ervoor dat ik verwacht dat dit een business model voor de toekomst is in de kledingindustrie. Daarom een persoonlijke beschrijving van dit vernieuwende business model.

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urban development Chongqing

Under The Dome: frisse wind in de discussie over China’s smog?

Dit artikel verscheen eerder op China2025.

Groot nieuws in China was deze week de jaarlijkse bijeenkomst van het National People’s Congress, Groter nieuws kwam diezelfde tijd echter van buiten de politiek. De documentaire Under The Dome werd vrijwel direct een sensatie op het internet na de premiere eind februari en stal daarmee de show in verschillende media.

De documentaire, gemaakt door oud-CCTV verslaggever Chai Jing, gaat over de ernstige luchtvervuiling in China en werd al snel vergeleken met andere grote momenten in milieubewustwording (en –activisme): het boek Silent Spring van Rachel Carson (1962) bijvoorbeeld of de documentaire An Inconvenient Truth van Al Gore (2006).

Wordt Under The Dome voor China net zo iconisch?

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air pollution

Cleaning up China’s sky

If you follow news on China even a little bit in the international media, you will have heard about the high levels of air pollution in pretty much all major Chinese cities. Airpocalypses even: when the level of pollution in a particular city gets so high that public life comes to a halt. Beijing experienced this on January 12, 2013 (to name the most extreme day) when the level of PM2.5 particles in the air (the main pollutant, and what is generally measured to assess the level of pollution at any given moment) reached a staggering 755. In Shanghai, the record stands close to 500, occurring on December 6, 2013. To put these numbers into perspective: the WHO recommends a level of 25 (of PM2.5) as the maximum level for clean air.

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CCTV Beijing Koolhaas blue sky

On solutions and blue sky

It was already noticeable when driving into the city from the airport yesterday: Beijing is hosting the annual APEC Summit this weekend. For those who don’t know, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum encompasses 21 countries, together making up 54% of the world’s GDP and 44% of world trade. Among its member states are the United States, Japan and China: the top 3 economies of the world.

Not surprisingly, there’s a lot to talk about this week and most of which fits neatly with China’s domestic agenda as Elizabeth Economy points out: regional economic integration, innovative development and infrastructure development, to name a few.

Yet, the world’s eyes are more focused on if a bilateral meeting between Japan’s Shinzo Abe & China’s Xi Jinping will happen: it would be a welcome break in a very fraught relationship.

Blue sky for APEC

But even more than the political dimension of this summit, media in Europe (at least) is talking about the blue sky that is starting to appear in Beijing in preparation of the arrival of the expected heads of state.

Factories are being shut down, cars are restricted and yes, at least today this has resulted in a bright blue – and clean – sky, as you can see above. I took advantage by being outside a lot on a day of meetings talking about China’s pollution and solutions for this.

First, with a Dutch entrepreneur who has made it his business to bring promising and innovative technology to China, often with a focus on reducing pollution, for example by introducing technology for cleaner energy-from-coal production. The main take away: don’t be afraid to do business in China. Yes, there are risks but the opportunity for truly innovative technology here shouldn’t be missed. (And: China is further advanced then you might think, so make sure you really are innovative).

Cleaning up China’s textile production

Another meeting today was at the China office of American NGO NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). We spoke mostly about their work on cleaning up the supply chain in the textile industry, focusing especially on dyeing mills. This work started after research showing the extent of water pollution in China, of which the chemical and textile industry are the main contributors. By working with large retailers, NRDC has slowly built a program working with mills directly on decreasing water pollution and improving energy conservation.

However, often, for companies in the textiles industry such as brands and retailers, focus is on working with their first tier supplier: the factories where clothing is sewn together. Mills are another step back in the supply chain and, especially for smaller companies, often unknown – as last week’s SOMO research showed for South-India where completely different issues are at stake.

So, while large international retailers such as H&M, GAP, Nike see a definite business need to tackle this issue partly based on reputational risk, this argument isn’t as strong for smaller companies. What incentive do they have to include second tier suppliers such as dyeing mills in their CSR activities? One reason can be an increased risk of an unreliable supply chain if there is little information about where fabrics come from: mills have been closed down by local governments in the past on the basis of excessive pollution which compromises the timely delivery of fabrics and ability to maintain critical production timelines. Or the risk of hazardous chemicals in the fabrics used.

Lots of work still to do.