Fast-fashion, air pollution and women leaders under the media spotlight

Here are some interesting new stories from McGill University Media Relations:
Published: 10 June 2022

Lack of environmental awareness and preference for variety leading causes of waste in fast-fashion production

Can fast-fashion be sustainable? Researchers, including Javad Nasiry, Associate Professor at McGill’s Desautels Faculty of Management, think yes. By identifying why the fast fashion business model creates waste and whether regulators can establish incentives for consumers and manufacturers are steps to reducing waste. 

Recently, the apparel industry has come under scrutiny for creating a waste problem with dire environmental consequences. In the absence of economically and economically viable recycling options, fast-fashion manufacturers pump out low-quality clothes produced in high volumes that are worn only a few times and then discarded – with little to no consequences to manufacturers.  

The researchers put forth policy contributions, ranging from sustainable disposal of leftover inventory to production tax to incentivize both manufacturers and consumers to be more waste conscious.  

“In order to devise effective policies to curb the environmental impact of the apparel industry, it is important to identify the source of the problem in the supply chain,” explains Professor Nasiry. “Manufactures, consumers, and regulatory bodies can then take an informed approach to recognize the environmental impact of fast fashion and to design an ecosystem to reduce waste, incentivize innovation, and create new business models to manage waste.”  

Sustainability in the Fast Fashion Industry” by Xiaoyang Long and Javad Nasiry was published in Manufacturing & Service Operations Management.

Air pollution gets worse during winter at airports

Air pollution kills approximately 7 million people every year worldwide. According to researchers from McGill University, airports are hotspots for airborne pollutants that are detrimental to human health and the Earth’s climate. Studying air pollution at three major Canadian airports the researchers found that airports situated in colder climates accumulated more pollutants like PM2.5 in the fall and winter, compared to airports in milder climates. The smallest and the coldest airport with the least number of flights and passengers had the highest PM2.5 concentration.  

“Meteorological factors such as the cold temperature and snowfall concentrate pollutants and alter their distribution. Targeted reduction of PM2.5 emissions is recommended, especially for cold climate regions where we observe higher concentrations of pollutants,” says Professor Parisa Ariya of the Departments of Chemistry and Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. 

During the COVID-19 lockdown, the researchers found that concentrations of PM2.5 and other particles in residential areas close to one airport decreased to such an extent that it conformed to the recommended workplace health threshold. Before the lockdown it exceeded this threshold. “The drop in the concentration of pollutants due to COVID-19 reveals how much pollution is generated at airports during normal activities. It also shows how much pollution workers and residents of the area are exposed to, especially during cold seasons,” says Professor Ariya.  

PM2.5 decadal data in cold vs. mild climate airports: COVID-19 era and a call for sustainable air quality policy” by Rodrigo Rangel-Alvarado et al. was published in Environmental Science and Pollution Research.

Gender gap: Women leaders face more scrutiny than male counterparts

More than ever before, women are reaching new heights in various fields. However, success comes at a cost – one that could have significant repercussions on their careers and personal lives.   

A recent McGill-led study on the relationship between gender, fame, and media coverage examined how journalists cover women when they break through the glass ceiling, reaching positions of power and status. The researchers examined millions of media references to thousands of women and men in various domains, including politics, business, entertainment, and sports. They showed that although overall media coverage is more positive for women than for men, this difference disappears and even reverses at higher levels of fame.   

This phenomenon, referred to as a “paper cut” (in reference to breaking the glass ceiling), results from the violation of gender hierarchies and social expectations about typical feminine behavior, which evokes disproportionate scrutiny for successful women.  

“As women become more successful and famous, their media coverage becomes increasingly more negative, while for men the coverage sentiment remains stable, regardless of their level of fame,” explained McGill professor Eran Shor, Department of Sociology. “As women’s fame increases, rather than celebrating their achievements with favorable coverage, media scrutinize them more closely, ready to find blemishes and faults in their performance.”  

Women Who Break the Glass Ceiling Get a “Paper Cut”: Gender, Fame, and Media Sentiment” by Eran Shor, Arnout van de Rijt and Vivek Kulkarni was published in Social Problems.

About McGill University

Founded in Montreal, Quebec, in 1821, McGill University is Canada’s top ranked medical doctoral university. McGill is consistently ranked as one of the top universities, both nationally and internationally. It is a world-renowned institution of higher learning with research activities spanning three campuses, 11 faculties, 13 professional schools, 300 programs of study and over 39,000 students, including more than 10,400 graduate students. McGill attracts students from over 150 countries around the world, its 12,000 international students making up 30% of the student body. Over half of McGill students claim a first language other than English, including approximately 20% of our students who say French is their mother tongue.

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