‘Put a penny on every garment’ is fashionable way to save planet
A campaign to force clothing brands and retailers to pay a penny on every garment they sell to fund a £35m annual recycling scheme has been backed by a Midlands green energy expert.
Ron Fox is supporting MPs who say “fast fashion” is a major contributor to greenhouse gases, water pollution, air pollution and over-use of water.
The Environmental Audit Committee is also concerned about the use of child labour, prison labour, forced labour and bonded labour in the manufacture of clothes.
“It is quite alarming,” said Ron, “that the fashion business is estimated to produce as many greenhouse gases as all the planes flying in the world.”
On the positive side the industry creates jobs worldwide and is said to be worth £28bn to the UK economy.
But on the negative side the UK consumes 26.7kg of new clothing annually per head of population, the highest in Europe, and less than one per cent of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new garments at the end of its life.
A total of 235 million items of clothing are sent to landfill every year and 700,000 fibres may be released in a single wash which eventually end up in the bellies of ocean wildlife.
The global fashion industry also produces 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions while 3,781 litres of water are used from growing cotton, to manufacture and multiple washes of a single pair of jeans.
“To save the planet we have to get away from the modern idea of buying cheap clothes, wearing them once and then throwing them away,” said Ron, on the University of Keele Science Innovation Park.
“As a world we need to reduce the number of clothes we buy, keep them for longer and then give them to charity shops.”
The Environmental Audit Committee chair, Mary Creagh, said the government should end the throwaway culture known as “fast fashion” whereby some high street shops rotate new garments many times a week and incentivise companies that offer sustainable designs and repair services.
The MPs concluded that few fashion retailers were signing up to a voluntary agreement to reduce their water, waste and carbon footprints.
They admitted that some companies were addressing the problem, offering vouchers to shoppers taking back used garments. However, the committee said more needs to be done, including adding a penny on every garment sold to fund a £35m annual recycling scheme.
Mary Creagh added: “We’ve got to help teenagers get an emotional attachment to their clothes instead of just wearing them a couple of times, getting photographed for Instagram and then chucking them away.”
She said all consumers must buy fewer clothes – then mend them if they’re torn, or rent or share them, adding that children should be taught the joy of making and mending clothes in school.
For advice on reducing our carbon footprint contact Ron Fox on 0845 474 6641.