STYLE

UK Households Are Successfully Applying Sustainable Practices To Their Wardrobes, And It's Helping The Environment

'It’s great that fewer clothes are ending up in the residual waste.'

11/07/2017 00:01 BST

People are taking much better care of their clothing than three years ago and it’s helping the environment, according to a new report. 

Households across the UK have applied environmentally friendly practices over the past few years to their wardrobes, according to WRAP - a sustainability not-for-profit organisation. 

Since WRAP’s first sustainable fashion study in 2012, the amount of clothing discarded in residual waste has fallen by approximately 50,000 tonnes. Falling from 350,000 to 300,000 tonnes in 2015 - a reduction equivalent in weight to more than 300 Jumbo Jets. 

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The report, ‘Valuing Our Clothes: The Cost Of UK Fashion’, found people are actively washing their clothing at lower temperatures; turning the heat down from 40 to 30 degrees.

With the regular use of tumble-dryers and ironing also decreasing, according to WRAP’s consumer research.

These combined changes in behaviour have helped cut approximately 700,000 tonnes CO2e from UK emissions, each year. 

Having launched their Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) in 2013 - a voluntary agreement designed and brokered by WRAP in partnership with the government and industry - significant improvements have been made by those involved. 

Working closely with major clothing designers, brands and manufacturers, they’ve driven forward more sustainable production and buying practices, and increased textiles re-use and recycling. 

By providing advice and support for households on caring for clothes and working to increase reuse and recycling, carbon has been reduced by 10.6% and water by 13.5% and waste across the product lifecycle by 0.8%. 

But the environmental footprint of UK clothing - including global and territorial emissions - has risen by 2 million tonnes from 2012 to 26 million tonnes of CO2e.

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According to the report, this is due to a combination of relatively low prices, and increased population, and puts clothing fourth after housing, transport and food in terms of its impact on the environment. 

However, while fewer clothes are ending their life in the household bin, the amount purchased over the same period has risen by nearly 200,000 tonnes to 1.13 million tonnes sold. 

Steve Creed, Director of Business Programmes WRAP, commented:

“I am delighted by how well SCAP signatories are doing. At this stage of the agreement they are not only well on the way to achieving the targets, but continue to outperform the sector as a whole - particularly in sustainable cotton,” he said. 

“It’s amazing that 20% more cotton is now sustainably-sourced by signatories than when we began.

“And having high-street names like M&S, Tesco and Sainsbury’s setting ambitious sustainable cotton targets will help ease the pressure on some of the world’s most water-sensitive countries. 

“It’s great too that fewer clothes are ending up in the residual waste, but overall our carbon footprint is rising so the next few years are critical in balancing growing demand with supplying clothes more sustainably.

“I’m confident SCAP will play a big part in helping to make this happen, and make sustainable fashion much more mainstream.”