Stella McCartney has taken a stand in the matter of the global fashion industry and its disastrous effects on the environment. The renowned fashion designer recently backed a report created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and is calling for a radical change in the industry – which, if the trends continue, will be responsible for consuming over a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050.
The newly published Ellen MacArthur Foundation report reveals a number of staggering facts and statistics. It highlights that less than one percent of material used for clothing is recycled into new items, the estimated cost of landfilling clothes and household textiles in the UK is around 82 million pounds a year, and perhaps most shockingly … half a million tons of plastic microfibers are released into the oceans yearly from washed clothes. Globally, a truckload of clothes is wasted every second.
According to the report, half of High Street fashion is disposed by its consumers within a year. The amount of clothing purchased doubled in the last 15 years, while the number of times an item is actually worn has fallen by 20 percent.
We might not think about it regularly, but the fashion industry has an immense toll on the environment. It is responsible for creating 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse emissions a year, which is an amount larger than that created by international flights and shipping combined, the Guardian reports. Another effect of the industry is the accumulation of non-biodegradable synthetic fibers coming from clothing and ending up in the oceans.
The report not only brings to light the problems that we have to face because of the industry but also lists suggestions as to how the reality of producing and consuming fast fashion can be changed and made more sustainable. The suggestions include phasing out substances of concern and creating safer materials, radically improving recycling by a transformation in clothing design, collection, and reprocessing, and moving to renewable inputs as well as making better use of resources.
It also notes the growing concern among consumers about the impact their choices have on the world and many aspire to a more sustainable way of living. A recent survey by consultants Kantar Futures shows that 80 percent of respondents are willing to pay more for products that would last longer.
“Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting,” Dame Ellen MacArthur told BBC News. Condemning the industry for being “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment,” McCartney decided to join MacArthur in the call for a radical and systemic change in the way clothes are produced, bought, used, and disposed of.
MacArthur has been successful in gaining the support of such brands as H&M and Nike that backed up the report. “The report … opens up the conversation that will allow us to find a way to work together to better our industry for the future of fashion and for the future of the planet,” she said. Hopefully, the conversation will be taken up by more and more brands and businesses and it will prove to be the beginning of a radical change in the way the industry operates in terms of environmental impact, workplace ethics, and consumer rights.
If you’re inspired by this report and want to learn more about the impact of your clothing choices, check out these articles:
If you’re looking to remove plastics from your everyday life, check out One Green Planet’s #CrushPlastic campaign.
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