UK MPs to look at eco impact of fast fashion

The UK Parliament is to look at the social and environmental impact of fast fashion with the Environmental Audit Committee examining issues such as carbon footprints, resource use and the water footprint of clothing during its lifecycle.

The impact of fast fashion is being looked at by the UK's Parliament

It will also be considering new ideas to boost recycling and to reduce both clothing waste and the pollution it can cause.

The move comes as both consumers and regulators become increasingly aware of the impact of fashion items during their production phase, while they’re owned and worn (such as microfibres leaking into waterways when clothing is washed), and the effects of their disposal.

Mary Creagh, chair of the environmental audit committee, said: "Fashion shouldn't cost the earth. But the way we design, make and discard clothes has a huge environmental impact. 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.”

The fashion industry is vitally important to the UK, with its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) heading towards £30 billion, according to the British fashion Council.

But the globalisation of the industry in recent decades and the development of fast fashion business models has created problems with more product than ever being created, impacting the environment through its lifecycle. And with consumers who buy cheap fast fashion being encouraged to buy more and wear it for sorter periods, issues such as toxic dyes, over-use of water, ocean pollution, working conditions within manufacturing and landfill are rarely out of the headlines.

A study from campaign group Wrap said that in 2015, around 300,000 tonnes of clothing was thrown away in the UK. That was down fro 350,000 tonnes in 2012, but Wrap said fashion still has the fourth biggest environmental impacting Britain, after housing, transport and food.

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