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Title: What factors could be used to promote environmentally beneficial behaviours within garment use and discard?
Author: Smith, Jade Emily Whitson
ISNI:       0000 0004 7428 128X
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2018
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It is becoming increasingly important for all disciplines to consider their impact on the environment; fashion design is no exception to this, as garment consumption behaviour has significant impacts on the environment. Most research into sustainable fashion has focused on the area of supply and production while under-emphasising the importance of demand in the material garment economy. More specifically, effort has been focused on reducing the impact of materials and manufacturing while the consumer use phase of a garment's lifecycle (frequency of wear, retention, maintenance and disposal) has been downplayed. Reducing the impacts of the consumer use phase is dependent on changing consumer behaviour. Documenting and researching the consumer experience provides an opportunity to evaluate where changes towards sustainability can be made while acknowledging existing influences on behavioural practices. In this study, consumer research was undertaken in order to examine the motivations for, and barriers against four environmentally desirable consumer use behaviours; wearing garments for longer, repairing garments, shifting ownership of inactive garments and discard channel selection. A multi-strategy approach was utilised and included an in-depth qualitative wardrobe study with 17 participants followed by a quantitative online survey with 270 participants. The research sample was made up of females between the ages of 18 and 75, living in the UK. This sample was selected to give the best insight into garment consumption, framed within the location of the UK. The results showed that understanding of environmentally desirable garment consumption behaviours were variable amongst participants. Despite this, environmentally desirable behaviours were occurring, motivated by a range of factors. Pro-environmental intent was not found to be a significant motivating factor for any of the four target behaviours. The participants' personal circumstances appeared to have a considerable influence on their practices, and any changes in circumstances could act as a prompt for behaviour change. Previously, sustainable fashion 'solutions' have focused on the design of new garments, based on the assumption that that physical attributes of garments have a dominant influence on consumer behaviour. The results suggest that the influence of garment design on behaviour may have been previously overstated. Within fashion, little attention has been given to applying theoretical models to garment consumption behaviour. The understanding gained from the research was used to adapt Stern's Attitude-Context-Behaviour model for garment consumption behaviours. The adaptations focused on the inclusion of personal circumstances and the physical attributes of garments. This model offers meaningful insight into the influences on behaviour; a crucial resource for designing behaviour change strategies. It is hoped that this research will help to expand sustainable fashion solutions beyond the design of garments, and allow more targeted behaviour change strategy. With this understanding of consumer behaviour, we could be promoting more sustainable consumer behaviours in more interesting and exciting ways- by making them more convenient, by incentivising them, prompting them, and other clever tricks, such as encouraging public commitment to change.
Supervisor: Tseelon, Efrat Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available