In the Loop: Fixing Fashion

 

Yesterday marked a hugely important day for the fashion industry and for sustainability. The UK Environmental Audit Committee published their report entitled Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability, outlining the negative environmental impact our fashion industry is having, alongside suggestions for a more positive industry.

Mary Creagh, MP and chairwoman of the committee voiced, "in the UK we buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe. 'Fast fashion' means we over consume and underuse clothes. As a result, we get rid of over a million tonnes of clothes, with £140 million worth going to landfill, every year.”

An Extract From the Summary:

The way we make, use and throwaway our clothes is unsustainable. Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined, consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and plastic pollution. Synthetic fibres are being found in the deep sea, in Arctic sea ice, in fish and shellfish. Our biggest retailers have ‘chased the cheap needle around the planet’, commissioning production in countries with low pay, little trade union representation and weak environmental protection. In many countries, poverty pay and conditions are standard for garment workers, most of whom are women. We are also concerned about the use of child labour, prison labour, forced labour and bonded labour in factories and the garment supply chain. Fast fashions’ overproduction and overconsumption of clothing is based on the globalisation of indifference towards these manual workers.

The Government must change the system to end the throwaway society. Often it is more expensive to repair an item than buy a new one. Many of us also lack the skills to perform more than basic clothing repairs. The Government should make fashion retailers take responsibility for the waste they create and reward companies that take positive action to reduce waste. A charge of one penny per garment on producers could raise £35 million to invest in better clothing collection and sorting in the UK. The Government’s recent pledge to review and consult on extended producer responsibility for the textile industry by 2025 is too slow. We need action before the end of this parliament.

To read the full report click here.

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At Riley Studio, we strongly agree with the report’s conclusion that the global fashion industry is exploitative and environmentally damaging and that brands, big and small, have an obligation to take responsibility for and address the current business models that encourage our ‘throw-away society’. To read more about our response to the report, and to hear our CEO Olivia Dowie discuss the topic on BBC World Service’s Business Matter segment, click here.