Date of Completion

2019

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Type of Thesis

Honors College, Environmental Studies Electronic Thesis

First Advisor

Professor Rachelle Gould

Second Advisor

Professor Jane Kolodinsky

Third Advisor

Professor Brendan Fisher

Keywords

fast fashion, clothing, sustainable fashion, green gap, knowledge-behavior gap

Abstract

This paper seeks to determine if consumers with stronger environmental values make more sustainable clothing purchasing decisions.

“Fast fashion” refers to inexpensive clothing items that are typically of low quality and that are produced quickly and cheaply to satisfy rapidly changing market demands (Fernie & Sparks); fast fashion also refers to the business model that supports the rapid production of cheap clothing items (Preuit, 2016). In places like Mexico and Bangladesh, the rise of fast fashion has led to a race to the bottom when it comes to clothing production practices (Rosen, 2002). Fast fashion has negative effects on both human communities and the environment. Negative social effects of fast fashion include proximity to carcinogenic compounds (Timmerman, 2009), dangerous working conditions (Yardley, 2013), and salaries as low as 12 – 18 cents per hour (Claudio, 2007). Negative environmental impacts include the pollution of waterways (Antanavičiūtė & Dobilaitė, 2015), the release of greenhouse gases (Climate Works Foundation, 2018, Nature, 2018), and the contribution of discarded clothes to landfills across the globe (Remy, Speelman, and Swartz, 2017).

Given these ill-effects of fast fashion, my work seeks to determine if people with strong environmental values make more sustainable clothing purchasing decisions. In order to do this, I conducted a survey that collected information about the clothes participants were wearing at the time of taking the survey, then used that information to create a sustainability clothing score for each respondent. Respondents also answered questions from two indices, Mayer & Frantz’s connectedness to nature scale (CNS) as well as Haws, Winterich, & Naylor’s GREEN scale. The two indices were then compared to their clothing score in order to see if there was any correlation between the magnitude of environmental values and a higher clothing score.

It was found that CNS was not significantly related to clothing score, but that GREEN scores were. Additionally, no significant differences were found between environmental and non-environmental majors. However, there was a relationship between self-reported behavior and clothing score.

My work contributes to a larger body of behavioral economics research that explores the dissonance between stated values and actual decisions, known as the knowledge-behavior gap, or more specifically in environmental circles, the green gap.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Available for download on Monday, June 29, 2020

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