Management Award


Customer Education on Sustainable Garment Care

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Textile care is responsible for 25% of a garment's carbon footprint and yet is disproportionately underrepresented in sustainability discourses, as experience has shown that production and industry are prioritised. The thesis aims to address this sustainability deficit by empowering consumers through customer education on sustainable textile care.

Why Is Sustainable Garment Care Needed?

The steadily increasing consumption of textiles and a permanently decreasing lifespan result in 39 million tonnes of used textile waste being generated every year. According to a study by Common Objectives, global fashion consumption will increase by 63% by 2030, while currently, nine out of ten garments end up in landfills. Irreparable damage caused by care, such as colour loss, stains and shrinkage, is the most common reason for early disposal. This development impressively shows that sustainable consumption alone is not enough. It requires the correct post-purchase care to continue and expand the environmentally responsible stance after buying clothing.

Consumers Have a Very Little Knowledge of Sustainable Garment Care:

59% of people learn how to do laundry from their parents and adopt their washing habits in the household they set up themselves. This large consumer group is thus passed on knowledge about outdated machines and washing habits. This circumstance leads to modern washing machines being used like machines from the 1950s. Nevertheless, 62% say that care features are an essential variable when buying.
The impact of this behaviour on textile lifespan and the environment highlights the significance of a much-needed behavioural change. It is evident that washing and care are intuitive and instinctive, and habits drive actions. Customer education can serve as a way to break down and restructure these habits by guiding customers in the behaviour change process and experiencing real benefits that reinforce the newly established behaviour sustainably in the long term.

Customer Education as a Tool to Foster Sustainable Garment Care:

Customer education offers verifiable and scalable business benefits and is a tool whose possibilities for sustainable development have hardly been explored. For this reason, I have adapted and further developed a model from the tech and software industry in my thesis. This Customer Education Journey, which I have further developed according to a model by the author Adam Avramescu, aims to reduce the consumer's carbon footprint through continuous education.

The journey accompanies customers in the learning process and enables them to further their education and competence, strategically guided by companies.
Ultimately, customers should develop an awareness of the impact of the fashion industry and textile care. After this thought-provoking process has taken place, the process moves on to behavioural change. At this stage, companies can provide e.g. guides – case studies have shown that these services are offered from time to time. However, it gets tricky when it comes to the long-term retention of the newly acquired knowledge. For this purpose, the model has a circular structure that ensures that consumers continuously engage with the educational material and reflect on their behaviour accordingly.

A Self-Application Primer and Worksheet for Companies:

To not only describe theoretically how companies contribute to sustainable development through customer education but also to provide practical input, I have developed a primer and a worksheet as part of the thesis. The primer summarises the research results and answers the questions "Why should I educate my customers on sustainable garment care?" and "How can I educate my customers on sustainable garment care?“. The self-application worksheet can be used in a workshop and enables companies to engage in long-term customer education – and thus contribute to sustainable development and experience direct business benefits.
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