Mary Creagh, chair of the House of Commons environmental audit committee, has said sustainability should be top of the fashion industry’s agenda, and a fundamental requirement for business.
Speaking at the inaugural Drapers Sustainable Fashion conference in London today, Creagh called on retailers to take responsibility for their waste and stop promoting “throwaway fashion”.
“Being sustainable should be part of a business’s licence to operate,” she said. “Turning a blind eye is problematic. Retailers need to be responsible – they shouldn’t promote throwaway fashion.
“We want ‘made in the UK’ to be something to be proud of. We want companies to report on modern slavery.
“Every supplier should have a target to reduce carbon, waste and water. We need to think about what’s going to happen in five, 10 and 15 years down the line.”
Creagh said the fashion industry needs to be part of the global drive to have a net zero emissions, as it creates 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
Last month the environmental audit committee published its final report on the sustainability of the fashion industry. It said a charge of 1p per garment could raise £35m for investment to improve clothing collection and recycling in the UK.
“The model is unsustainable,” Creagh said. “Less than 1% of clothing gets recycled and the average piece of clothing is only worn only seven times in the UK. We buy 27 kilos of clothing every year – double that of the Italians.”
Creagh added that steps are being taken but the industry needs to connect better to enforce change: “The fashion industry is fragmented, everyone needs to get together, discuss the challenges and what can be done to change.
“We are shining a light, and that’s a way to clean things up, but more needs to be done.”