Clothing Companies Agree: Sustainability Is in Fashion

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February 20, 2009

A new action plan to make fashion more sustainable and less environmentally damaging was launched Friday at the start of London Fashion Week, by Defra Minister Lord Hunt.

The Sustainable Clothing Roadmap has brought together over 300 organizations, from high-street retailers to designers and textile manufacturers, to battle the environmental impacts of ?throwaway fashion.? Companies and some of the biggest names in fashion have agreed to take actions to make a significant difference to the environmental footprint and social inequalities that blight some of the production and retail processes of consumer fashion.

While having many economic benefits, clothing has a significant environmental and ethical impact, ranging from increased carbon emissions, waste, water usage and pollution to child labor and unfair trading conditions. The clothing and textiles sector in the U.K. alone produces around 3.1 million tons of CO2, 2 million tons of waste and 70 million tons of waste water per year, with 1.5 million tons of unwanted clothing ultimately ending up in landfill.

Lord Philip Hunt, Minister for Sustainability said: ?This action plan represents a concerted effort from the fashion industry, including top names in the high street and manufacturers, to change the face of fashion.

?Retailers have a big role to play in ensuring fashion is sustainable. We should all be able to walk into a shop and feel that the clothes we buy have been produced without damaging the environment or using poor labor practices, and that we will be able to reuse and recycle them when we no longer want them. I?m delighted that so many fashion companies have signed up to the sustainable clothing action plan, and I look forward to seeing these actions come to fruition.?

Action takers for the roadmap will be concentrating on the following key areas:

  • Improving environmental performance across the supply chain, including sustainable design; fibers and fabrics; maximizing reuse, recycling and end of life management; and clothes cleaning.
  • Awareness, media, education and networks for the sustainability of clothes.
  • Promoting markets for sustainable clothing.
  • Improving traceability along the supply chain (environmental, ethical, and trade).

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