The clothing and textile industry in the UK has not been very conscious of exactly how environmentally sustainable the fashion business is, and what its social impact on the world is (particularly in the third world). Approximately 90% of clothing sold in the UK is imported, with a large portion rumoured to have often come from sweatshops in China and India. Also, the industry’s carbon footprint has been largely ignored, until now.
According to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the clothing industry’s annual carbon footprint stands at a whopping 3.1 million tonnes, and every year it produces 2 million tonnes of rubbish. These statistics are shocking, which is why the Defra initiated the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAB), which was launched at this year’s fashion show, with many designers coming out with eco chic designs.
The aims of the plan are to reduce the harmful environmental and social impacts that come out of the clothing and textiles sectors. The plan aims to address all levels of the industry’s value chain activities; this includes importing from environmentally aware and ethical producers to reducing unnecessary disposal of clothes. No stone has been left unturned. And with the backing of over 300 clothing and fashion organisations, the plan is likely to make a measurable difference in the lives of UK citizens.
Many of the big names in fashion and clothing have committed to taking firm action such as Marks and Spencer’s commitment to building eco friendly factories in its supply chain. Nike, Tesco and Oxfam are some of the other heavyweights who have signed up to be part of the solution.
The actual plan itself consists of four broad aims, namely:
1. Improving environmental performance across the supply chain, including: sustainable design; fibres and fabrics; maximising reuse, recycling and end of life management; and clothes cleaning.
2. Awareness, media, education and networks for the sustainability of clothes in fashion.
3. Promoting markets for sustainable fashion and clothing.
4. Improving traceability along the supply chain (environmental, ethical, and trade).
It is hoped that the United Kingdom will catapult from being one of the worst clothing wasters to being sustainable fashion and textiles producers and consumers, and in the process help the environment specifically by reducing the nation’s carbon blueprint.