Changing fashion

More than half UK public worry about the environmental cost of their clothes

Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod

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Published: 11 November 2020

This Article was Written by: Jarvis Smith - My Green Pod

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Research by WRAP has found that more than half of us now view the environmental impact of clothing as severe, with two in three (63%) saying clothes made to look good and last longer are now factors in the brands and clothing they choose.

The charity is warning major clothing retailers and brands that they must clearly demonstrate their commitment to making sustainable longer-lasting clothes, or risk losing sales.  

A circular system

The findings build on earlier WRAP research which found that the public wants inventive new retail options that prolong the life of clothes.

Options include voucher schemes for clothing exchanges (desired by 46%) and pre-loved clothes (41%) – a suggestion that’s particularly popular among younger and ‘high frequency’ (weekly) clothes shoppers.

Our personal habits have changed too during lockdown, with one in four (23%) now repairing clothes and one in five (19%) keeping items for longer.

‘Thousands of tonnes of unwanted clothes and textiles end up in landfill and incineration each year, wasting precious natural resources.

‘That is why we must shift away from this ‘take, make, use, throw’ approach to a more circular system where clothes are kept in use and re-used, recycled fibres are used in new products and the climate and water impacts of the sector are reduced.

‘Textiles 2030 will help drive this transformation, to shift to greater circularity and innovation in the UK and help in our mission to build back greener from the Covid pandemic.’

REBECCA POW
Environment Minister

SCAP 2020

Businesses are responding to public demand for clothes with lighter environmental footprints, with major brands and retailers signed up to the SCAP 2020 voluntary agreement (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) exceeding both the carbon and water targets.

But, warns WRAP, many more aren’t, and those that want to protect their market share must demonstrate to shoppers and shareholders their commitment to the environment, and sign up to Textiles 2030.

‘SCAP 2020 signatories have been the recognised leaders. However, more action is needed by more companies to make clothing more sustainable. That is why we need to continue this work. Textiles 2030 will pick up the mantle.’

MARCUS GOVER
Chief executive, WRAP

Textiles 2030

Textiles 2030 will be the most ambitious national voluntary agreement for clothing and other textiles in the world.

The aim of the 10-year programme is to transform UK clothing and home fabrics to reduce their impact on climate change.

It will take the UK from a make-use-dispose culture to a circular one where goods are produced sustainably, used longer and then re-used or recycled into new products.

‘The British Retail Consortium supports Textiles 2030 as an important step towards decarbonising and accelerating change within the UK fashion industry. Alongside our Climate Action Roadmap, both will provide a comprehensive way forward for fashion retailers to deliver an ambitious target to tackle climate change ahead of the Government’s 2050 net zero target.

‘Industry-wide collaboration is essential if we are to make crucial, science-based progress to create a more circular economy and combat climate change.’

LEAH RILEY BROWN
Sustainability Policy Advisor at British Retail Consortium

Reducing emissions

Central is the Target-Measure-Act approach, which requires clothing and textile businesses to set targets, measure their impact and track progress on both an individual business basis, and towards national targets and public reporting.

In this way, Textiles 2030 will reduce lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the global goal of a 1.5°C trajectory, cut the water footprint of products and deliver a UK-wide circular textiles road map.

The British Fashion Council, British Heart Foundation, The British Retail Consortium, Cancer Research UK, Charity Retail Association, CTR Group, Institute of Positive Fashion, John Lewis & Partners, Next, Oxfam, Primark, Recyclatex, Re-Fashion, Sainsbury’s, Salvation Army Trading Company, SOEX UK, Suez, Ted Baker, Textiles Recycling Association and Tesco are the first to sign up to Textiles 2030, ahead of its official launch in April 2021. 

‘The climate emergency is intensifying, and our resources are limited. We need fast, effective action more than ever. Our research shows that people understand this, and want sustainable clothes not disposable fashion.

‘Textiles 2030 is about transforming textiles, and taking up where SCAP 2020 left off – creating a fashion sector fit for the future.’

MARCUS GOVER
Chief executive, WRAP

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