The mindset of make-do-and-mend has given way to an era of throwaway fashion, but, as a cross-party group of MPs have warned, the overconsumption and under use of clothing comes at a heavy cost to the environment.
With millions of garments ending up in landfill each year, the Environmental Audit Committee is urging ministers to make retailers take responsibility for the waste they create.
Members want companies that design products less harmful to the environment to be rewarded and fashion producers to be charged a penny per garment to fund better clothing collection and recycling. “Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag,” says Yorkshire MP Mary Creagh, who chairs the committee. She points to carbon emissions, water use and chemical and plastic pollution that are “all destroying our environment”.
It is not just fashion producers who should heed her words. In his passionate defence of the natural world, Sir David Attenborough has inspired millions to appreciate and preserve the planet, helping to put these crucial issues at the forefront of people’s minds. Individuals all have a part to play – and this latest report by MPs is a stark reminder of the importance of encouraging people to recycle, share, buy less and make goods last longer.
For the sake of the environment, societal attitudes must shift from ‘fast fashion’ to ‘sustainable style’ – and they must do so quickly.