The change I want to see

Increased understanding of the environmental effects of the fashion industry has emerged in recent years, sparked by mounting evidence of increased global apparel consumption and powered by increased accessibility and cost-effectiveness. Over the past 3 years, the publication of several authoritative reports documenting the scale of the fashion industry’s environmental effects and the numerous sustainability initiatives pursued by the fashion industry (e.g., the Global Fashion Agenda’s ‘2020 Commitment’) has not only helped to draw more attention to the issues But an apparent wave of intention towards a specific, quantifiable action has also caused. With the abundance of knowledge concerning sustainability in the fashion industry, The aim of this chapter is to provide an overview of (1) the most important environmental impacts from the fashion industry, (2) current leading collective sustainability initiatives mobilising the fashion industry, (3) current available metrics and instruments for assessing the environmental impact of the textile life cycle, and (4) Examples of how apparel firms implement environmental programs in their products or processes. Finally, the chapter will end with some of the emerging issues facing the fashion industry and potential prospects in sustainability.

The way we make and wear our clothes and throw them away is unsustainable. Textile fabrication Contributes more to climate change than combined international air travel and shipping; Uses lake-sized freshwater volumes which induces chemical which plastic waste. In the deep sea, in Arctic sea ice, in fish and shellfish, synthetic fibers exist.

Our largest retailers have ‘chased the cheap needle around the globe,’ commissioning production in low-paid countries, low trade union representation, and low environmental protection. Poverty pay and conditions are common in many countries for garment workers, most of whom are women.

We are also concerned about the use of child labour, gaol labour, forced labour and bonded labour in factories and the supply chain for garments. The overproduction and overconsumption of clothing by rapid fashions is based on the globalisation of indifference towards those manual workers.
Forced labour is used to pick cotton in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, two of the world’s largest cotton production countries. There is also Labor abuse in the UK. ‘Made in the UK’ should mean at least the minimum wage to be paid to the staff.

But we were told it’s an open secret some garment factories don’t pay the minimum wage in places like Leicester. This has got to end. But if the chance of getting caught is low then there is a high motivation to cut corners. Even the same Leicester-based fast-fashion stores are offering clothes so cheaply that they are being viewed as single-use pieces.

In the UK we buy more clothes per person than in any other European country. A glut of second-hand clothing that swamps the market is dragging down prices for used textiles.
What can not be sold is ripped to bits and made into the stuffing with insulation and mattress. Worse still, every year about 300,000 tonnes of textile wastes end up in black household bins, Shipped to landfill or incinerator.

At the end of their lives, less than 1 percent of the material used to make garments is recycled into new clothes. In the meantime, retailers merely burn new unsold stock to retain their names. 
Fashion shouldn’t be costing the country. Yet the design industry has so long set out their own assignments.

Initiatives of voluntary corporate social responsibility have not dramatically increased wages and working conditions or eliminated waste. On sustainability the scientific warnings are solid. Mass extinction is caused by overconsumption and climate change.


Xiaopei Wu, J. and Li, L. (2019). Sustainability Initiatives in the Fashion Industry. Fashion Industry [Working Title]. [online] Available at:

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