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Redesigning fashion’s future

Ellen MacArthur and Stella McCartney launch a positive vision for a ‘new textiles economy’
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Ellen MacArthur and Stella McCartney

Ellen MacArthur and Stella McCartney have launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future.

The report finds that the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second, while less than 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothes.

If nothing changes, the fashion industry will consume a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050.

A $500 billion opportunity

The report lays out a positive vision for a ‘new textiles economy’, in which clothes are designed differently, worn longer and recycled and reused much more often.

Industry leaders including H&M, Lenzing and NIKE Inc. have endorsed the new vision and report, which was created with the support of over 40 organisations.

The authors are calling on the entire industry to innovate and collaborate towards the vision, and unlock an economic opportunity worth $500 billion to business and society.

Challenging the linear economy

Clothes are an everyday necessity, and for many an important expression of individuality. Yet the industry’s current wasteful take-make-dispose model is the root cause of many environmental impacts and substantial economic value loss.

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. An estimated $500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled.

If we continue with business as usual, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget.

As well as being wasteful, the industry is polluting: clothes release half a million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Microfibres are impossible to clean up and can enter food chains.

‘Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future presents an ambitious vision of a new system, based on circular economy principles, that offers benefits to the economy, society, and the environment. We need the whole industry to rally behind it.’

Founder of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

A new vision

A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future presents a positive new vision for a system that works, and summons the creative power of the fashion industry to build it.

In a new textiles economy clothes would be designed to last longer, be worn more and be easily rented or resold and recycled, and would not release toxins or pollution.

Exploring new materials, pioneering business models, harnessing the power of design and finding ways to scale better technologies and solutions are all needed to create a new textiles economy.

‘What really excites me about A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future is that it provides solutions to an industry that is incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment. The report presents a roadmap for us to create better businesses and a better environment. It 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.’

Fashion designer

A 21st-century textiles system

Creating a new textiles economy sets a new level of ambition for the fashion industry, and will require an unprecedented scale and depth of collaboration.

Industry leaders including Core Partners H&M, Lenzing and NIKE Inc., plus Philanthropic Funder C&A Foundation, endorse the new vision and report, and over 40 influential fashion brands, leading businesses, NGOs, public bodies, experts and the Foundation’s Knowledge Partner McKinsey & Company, have contributed to creating it.

Now the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is calling on the entire industry to rally behind this new vision and to launch a new wave of cross-industry collaboration and innovation to achieve it.

By presenting a clear understanding of the challenges faced and the economic opportunities, as well as practical levers for business, innovation and policy action, the New Textiles Economy report is a vital step in an industry-led approach to develop a global textiles system fit for the 21st century.

Click here to find out why cork may be the answer for ethical fashion that’s made to last.

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