The rise of fast fashion and its impact on the environment is set to be investigated by MPs, amid growing concerns that our desire for disposable clothing is having a “huge” impact on the planet.
The Environmental Audit Committee has announced it will put the fashion industry under the spotlight, by investigating whether fast fashion is unsustainable and how carbon emissions and water demand from clothing production can be reduced.
It will also examine how UK clothing purchasing habits have changed in recent years, as the committee believes there appears to be a link between the rise of cheap fashion and the decline in the number of times a garment is worn before it is thrown out.
Mary Creagh, the Labour MP who is chair of the committee, said: “Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. But the way we design, make and discard clothes has a huge environmental impact.”
The fashion industry contributes more than £28 billion to the UK economy, according to the latest figures from the British Fashion Council. But MPs are concerned about how clothes are made and what is being done with them after they are discarded, as some synthetic fibres result in ocean pollution and some chemical dyes contain toxic ingredients.
According to the latest figures from WRAP, over one million tonnes of clothing was purchased in the UK in 2016. In the same year, fabric waste in the supply chain equalled an estimated 800,000 tonnes, while consumers discarded 300,000 tonnes of clothing.
Creagh added: “Producing clothes requires toxic chemicals and produces climate-changing emissions. Every time we put on a wash, thousands of plastic fibres wash down the drain and into the oceans. We don’t know where or how to recycle end of life clothing.
“Our inquiry will look at how the fashion industry can remodel itself to be both thriving and sustainable.”