Clothing waste

LONDON — A British cross-party Parliamentary group is proposing a series of sustainable solutions for the country’s fashion industry — and calling on the government to help set the plan in motion.

The report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion includes action points such as boosting fabric recycling, supporting companies with green business models, investing in the development of sustainable fabrics and the return of local U.K. manufacturing.

This is not the first time the British government has been asked to help regulate the country’s fashion industry and fix its waste issues: In 2019, the Environmental and Audit Committee brought forward a series of suggestions in its Fixing Fashion report. The suggestions were later rejected by the government.

This time could well be different due to the impact of COVID-19 on the fashion industry.

With unsold inventories mounting and retailers across the board forced to close stores and lay off staff, the need for change and government intervention has become more urgent.

There’s also greater public awareness and support, with 65 percent of U.K. residents agreeing that the government should do more to reduce the impact of the fashion industry on the environment, according to research by the environmental charity Hubbub.

“Coronavirus has exposed deep inequalities and unsustainability in the garment industry. Creating a sustainable and ethical future for the fashion industry  is  an important but complex challenge for government, industry and the public and what is clear is that there is an appetite for this on all sides,” said Catherine West, a member of Parliament and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Ethics.

“We must seize this moment and put these recommendations into action by pushing the government to be a global leader.”

West also noted that citizens have a crucial role in holding government and businesses to account in the post COVID-19 rebuild.

She said 52 percent of those polled said they would be willing to spend a little more on clothes “if they were guaranteed to be made ethically in the U.K., supporting British workers. Forty-nine percent said they would be willing to spend a little more on clothes if they were guaranteed to be less impactful on the environment.”

Trewin Restorick, founder and chief executive officer of Hubbub, added: “Now is the time for government intervention to fix fast fashion and force companies to change their approach. As we’ve set out in our Greenprint, a more just and sustainable approach to how we dress, live, eat and travel is needed as we ‘build back better,’ which builds greater long-term resilience. It’s important for all of us to play our part by making individual small changes and choosing where we spend our money.”

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