We have mentioned in earlier blogs how seriously FIFTY ONE APPAREL take Sustainability in fashion and this week has seen the issue raised again in the media. The good news according to Eco Age, a leading and trusted voice in raising the profile of sustainable change to key audience, is that the British Government is taking the problem of fast fashion seriously and are making positive moves in addressing the concerns of clothes not being made to last.
The clothing industry is responsible for being one of the largest contributors having a negative impact on the planet. High water usage, pollution from chemical treatments used in dyeing and preparation and the disposal of large amounts of unsold clothing. There is a growing water scarcity, the current usage level of fashion materials (79 billion cubic meters annually) is very concerning, because textile production mostly takes place in areas where fresh water is under stress.
Only around 20% of clothing is recycled or reused, huge amounts of fashion product end up as waste in landfills or is incinerated. It has been estimated that in the UK alone around 350,000 tons of clothing ends up as landfill every year. According to Earth Pledge, a non-profit organisation committed to promoting and supporting sustainable development, "At least 8,000 chemicals are used to turn raw materials into textiles and 25% of the world's pesticides are used to grow non-organic cotton. This causes irreversible damage to people and the environment, and still 2/3 or 66% of a garment's carbon footprint will occur after it is purchased."
As part of the UK governments inquiry into sustainability they are working with sixteen leading fashion retailers in the UK to check what steps are in place to reduce the environmental and social impact of the clothes and shoes they sell.
More questions are being asked of the retailers to provide evidence that wages paid in their supply chain are not allowing illegally low wages for garment workers and what how some ‘fast fashion’ garments are disposed. It seems that some luxury brands would rather burn their stock than sell their goods at discounted prices and "damaging" their high end image It is without doubt that there is scope for retailers to do more to tackle labour market and environmental sustainability issues.
It is hoped that more retailers will come on board but as the trend for discounting continues the pressure to make profits does nothing to encourage sustainability to be moved higher up the agenda, as clearly this all comes at a cost. This is why government’s intervention is of such high importance.
As a small business we are trying to make changes where possible and it is sad to find that, in our efforts to make a difference, companies who have innovative solutions will not supply small quantities to fledgling companies . We need to find a way to encourage all businesses to maximise the opportunities available in the market place regardless of size. It is often the smaller companies who have stronger ethical values than the big guns who have the power to make significant changes. No matter, we all have our part to play......