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REPORT – Measuring Fashion 2018

Undertaken by the ClimateWorks Foundation, “Measuring Fashion 2018” is a report on the environmental impact of the global apparel and footwear industries.

The study is based on the World Apparel and Footwear Life Cycle Database (WALDB) and provides impact results for climate change, water, and human health, among other indicators. Click here to see a summary that provides metrics-based guidance for companies committed to making viable changes to reduce their impacts, and also here for the full report.

The report concludes that circular material flow alone is not enough to ensure the apparel sector greatly reduces its impacts by 2030. Even by reaching the ambitious target of recycling 40% of fibers in clothing by 2030, the study estimates the sector would reduce emissions by only 3-6%. “The scale of impact reduction this industry must achieve in the coming decade will only be possible with a combination of increased circular material flow, rapid transition to renewable energy sources, a significant increase in manufacturing process efficiencies, and smart design.”

My personal observation is that because of its rapid global growth, “Fast Fashion” is the environmental lightning rod for all products made from fibres, be they workwear, Manchester, carpets – or even slow fashion. Recent reports such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report “A new textiles economy” (2017) and “Fashion at the crossroads” (2017) by Greenpeace are Fast Fashion centric and include claims such as “The current clothing system is extremely wasteful and polluting…..it is estimated that more than half of fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year.” How does one separate Fast Fashion from Slow Fashion once it hits landfill?

Another observation is that these studies aggregate production of fibres, textiles and apparel across all fibres, products and producing nations. Countries and sectors that have worked towards sustainable production are aggregated into those that haven’t.