There is no doubt that the rise of ‘fast fashion’ has taken a toll on the environment. The fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide according to the United Nations Environment Programme, and textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally. In most countries where garments are produced, untreated toxic wastewaters are dumped into waterways. As well as this, washing clothes releases microfibers into the ocean – mainly polyester which releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton. Through focusing on sustainably sourcing materials as well as embedding sustainable practices within the supply chain, fashion businesses can make a real environmental impact.
As we purchase more clothing (Clothing production has roughly doubled since 2000 according to McKinsey & Company), we are also increasing how much we dispose of. The United Nations Environment Programme states that the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second. Businesses must ensure that garments are better made to last while encouraging the use of recycled and reused materials.
Through Planet Mark certification Rowlinson are contributing to six UN Sustainable Development Goals and have engaged 59 FTE employees. Rowlinson are also the first UK-based textiles supplier to extend carbon reduction certification to its overseas supply chain with Totex, its tier 1 supplier, also achieving Planet Mark certification.
It is also an exciting time of change in the industry with research suggesting that the Covid-19 lockdowns have dramatically altered consumer attitudes. A report from the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) found that 35% of women say they intend to purchase fewer items of clothing in the future. There is a strong appetite for change in the fashion industry with 50% believing that the industry should take measures to become more environmentally sustainable.