Environmental reporting of clothing retailers : a longitudinal study on measurement practices and legitimacy
The sustainability of the clothing industry is a topic of frequent discussion in the media. However, the discussion seems to be more focused on social issues in the supply chain rather than on the environmental impacts that the clothing industry causes. In addition, there seems to be a lack of research concerning the environmental impacts of the clothing industry. This thesis studies the environmental reporting of clothing retailers. The thesis compares the reporting practices by studying the sustainability reports of four multinational clothing retailers operating in Finland. The aim is to find out how the case companies measure their environmental performance and what environmental data they provide. Furthermore, the thesis takes a look into legitimacy by studying the potential use of strategies for legitimacy. The development of environmental reporting practices, measurement practices and the use of strategies for legitimacy are analyzed and the case companies are compared to each other. The research is of qualitative nature and is conducted as a longitudinal content analysis where the changes throughout the years of reporting can be seen. The results of the study indicate that sustainability reporting is not common among multinational clothing retailers operating in Finland. The environmental reporting seems to follow common guidelines, mainly the GRI reporting framework. The measurement of environmental aspects has a focus on product- and material-related data, especially on organic cotton and chemical use. In the case of legitimacy, the most commonly used strategy was to repair legitimacy. Despite the frequent variations in chosen indicators, base years and other approaches, the development of both environmental reporting practices and the presenting of measurement data has been somewhat positive. Thus this study builds an optimistic future for environmental reporting as some development can already be seen, but as long as the fashion retail industry is founded on mass consumption, environmental reporting bears a minimal role in reducing environmental impacts. ...
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- Pro gradu -tutkielmat 
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