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Fixing fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability

Securing a sustainable future for the planet and people is the defining challenge of our time. 19th of February was another important day for us who reflect sincere commitment to sustainability when the Environmental Audit Committee published a report called 'Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability'. This report is a game changer for the fashion industry on a global scale.

Garment production is one of the world’s biggest and most labour-intensive manufacturing industries with estimates of those directly employed ranging from 25 to 60 million people. The way we make, use and dispose of our clothes all has an environmental impact. The structure of this report reflects these stages in the lifecycle. Chapters 2 and 3 will look at the social and environmental impact of how we currently make clothes. The amount of clothes we throwaway will be examined in chapter 4. New economic models that could help improve the sustainability of the fashion industry will be explored in chapter 5.

The UN says that by 2050 the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles given the growth in global population.

We want to see a thriving fashion industry in the UK that provides decent work, inspires creativity and contributes to the economic success of the UK. The fashion industry’s current business model is unsustainable, especially with growing populations and rising levels of consumption across the globe. Over-consumption and climate change are driving widespread environmental damage. The exploitative and linear business model for fashion must change. The various parts of the fashion industry must come together to set out their blueprint for a net zero emissions world. Thiswill require reducing their carbon consumption back to 1990 levels. Given scientists’ stark warnings on climate change and biodiversity loss, we need to fix fashion.

More than $500 billion of value is lost every year due to clothing underutilisation and the lack of recycling, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Given the stark scientific warnings we face on climate change and biodiversity loss, we must reinvent fashion. Fashion that saves resources and energy, minimises plastic pollution, reduces waste and thrives uses a more circular business model. New economic models that rely on sharing or renting rather than ownership are emerging. Action could include:

  1. Recovering and reselling items customers no longer want

  2. Hiring or renting clothing to customers so they can be used by multiple people

  3. Developing ‘subscription’ models, which enable customers to swap clothes but also incentivise retailers to use garments many times before disposing of them

New ‘sharing economy’ business models for the fashion industry that involve hiring, swapping or subscribing to clothes services could be part of the solution.

Read the full report by clicking here.


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