Actions to tackle Fast Fashion
Updated: Oct 22, 2021
Issue: Fast Fashion
Vertical: Circular Economy
Information provided by: Marsya Rashid
waste generated is further exacerbated by overproduction & underutilisation that hurts our journey of creating sustainable cities and communities
clothes production has increased, consumers do not keep their clothes as long
E-commerce fuelling culture of over-ordering, fast delivery, & easy returns - business models that accelerate overconsumption & disposal
Industry constitutes 10% of global carbon emissions, which is more than maritime & flights combined
Industry is 2nd largest consumer of water worldwide
Discharge of untreated effluents into water bodies from processes like textile dyeing
Non-renewable resources used as material inputs such as: Oil to produce synthetic fibres
Wastage - up to 85% of textiles go to landfills each year
Approx. USD 500 billion of value lost each year due to barely worn clothes & non-recycled garments
Health & Social Impacts:
Some dyes eg. azo dyes, are toxic & carcinogenic agents - workers who produce/handle reactive dyes can face contact dermatitis, occupational asthma, conjunctivitis, or other allergic reactions
Blue dust for making jeans is a lung irritant & can cause silicosis: a deadly lung disease that has been associated with the death of garment workers
80% of apparel made by women between ages 18-24
Long working hours & low pay
Players making an impact:
Textile & Fashion Federation (TaFF)
Expand local businesses internationally, promote environmentally-friendly business practices, bolster local fashion designers & brands
Fashion Revolution (SG Team)
Releases annual Fashion Transparency Index, which ranks brands according to how transparent they are about their policies, practices, & supply chain
The Fashion Pulpit
Platform to swap, upcycle, & mend fashion items - physical retail store & online services eg. E-Swapping. From July 2018-present, Fashion Pulpit has saved 45,000 fashion items and is an important part of the sustainability community.
Launched business-to-business service that offers other companies access to their supply chain so they can accelerate their own environmental action
Provides opportunity for emerging designers to utilise leftover fabric for use in their designs and projects - in exchange for 3 hours of sorting at the warehouse, volunteers can take home 5 pounds of fabrics
UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion
Helps brands set sustainability targets, safeguard workers (especially women), reduce waste, & limit carbon emissions with outreach to both the private sector as well as governments
98% of water used to make its jeans is recycled so 1 pair of jeans requires 1.5 litres compared to average of 10,000 litres
First supplier of CO2 dyeing equipment & 95% of all CO2 is re-used. Moreover, each machine can save 15 million litres of water
- legislation to prevent fashion labels from destroying unsold merchandise & drafted a zero-waste law that includes making washing machine filters mandatory to stop microplastics from leaching out into the ocean
- Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) - all legal entities putting new textiles and clothing onto the French market are held responsible for the recycling or proper disposal of their products
Limitations of Current Measures
Policies eg. New York requires companies that generate waste consisting of more than 10% textiles to recycle rather than trash excess fabric
Difficulty in tracking & checking
Usage of recycled/organic materials such as recycled polyester
Not long-term in solution as they take a very long time to decompose and consume huge amounts of water
What more can CONSUMERS do:
Put pressure on brands & manufacturers to be environmentally-conscious
Learn more about the industry & its impacts & spread the message
Find out more about the practices of brands that one shops at
What more can the INDUSTRY do:
(i) Brands need to take action:
Brands have to commit to and invest in developing materials & products of quality that can last longer & can be safely disposed & recycled
Cost of sustainable clothing can only be brought down when major industry players commit to making a change in the supply chain & certain level of scale is achieved
Brands should also use their platforms to educate their consumers of the sustainability opportunities and choices
(ii) Closer collaboration is needed:
Closer collaboration with research institutes because employees are not researchers & at the same time, researchers can be unclear about specific demands & constraints companies face
Cross-value-chain collaboration to create a sustainable society
(iii) Quicker adoption & development of new solutions:
Need to adopt new practices, materials, & technology on a large scale - eg. bioengineering of fabrics & synthetic leather can result in creation of new materials, use of bio-waste to create products, sustainable dyeing practices
Develop efficient recycling processes for common materials & develop new materials if current ones not recyclable
Move to renewable inputs & more effective and efficient production processes - that generate less waste, need fewer inputs, reduce water use, are more energy efficient, run on renewable energy
(iv) Common standards need to be adopted:
Establish common standards about substances of concern that need to be phased out, quality & durability of products, & recyclability of products
Scale up clothing collection & implement it in places where it currently does not exist with guidelines on comprehensive collection, including a set of global archetypes
What more can POLICYMAKERS do:
Put legislation in place to ensure that producers, retailers, & manufacturers follow common standards legally set
Regulate companies through measures such as taxes to ensure that they keep to standards set
Conduct regular checks to assess and ensure companies keep to regulations put in place
Preview of the deck!
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