Can Ellen MacArthur and Stella McCartney stop fast fashion destroying the environment?

Fashion, one of the most polluting industries there is, can't hide behind wafts of material any more. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched its report A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion's future in London last month with Stella McCartney. Both are calling for the fashion industry to adopt a more sustainable vision for the future before it's too late.

Launched by Ellen MacArthur and Stella McCartney, the report was put together by the Circular Fibres Initiative. It highlights how far the fashion industry has to go but also how fashion brands of all sizes can make their mark on a greener future.

“Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ presents an ambitious vision of a new system, based on circular economy principles, that offers benefits to the economy, society and the environment. We need the whole industry to rally behind it,” says Ellen MacArthur.

Image Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Why is there such an environmental issue with the fast fashion industry?

  • Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. 
  • An estimated USD 500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. 
  • We dispose of half of our fast fashion purchases within a year, most of these end up in landfill.
  • As well as being wasteful, the industry is polluting: clothes release half a million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Microfibres are likely impossible to clean up and can enter food chains.
Image Ellen MacArthur Foundation

So what’s the solution?

This latest report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation outlines a 21st century vision for fashion, where clothes can be rented and shared alongside being made of less destructive materials, made to last longer and release less toxins into the environment.

But to do this we need systematic and social change. We need to explore new materials, rethink our design, scale and discover better technology and shift consumer thinking about what good fashion is.

“The report presents a roadmap for us to create better businesses and a better environment. It opens up the conversation that will allow us to find a way to work together to better our industry, for the future of fashion and for the future of the planet,” says Stella McCartney.

The New Textiles Economy Report brings together 40 massive fast fashion names including NIke and the C&A Foundation, who are behind the groundbreaking initiative Fashion For Good in Amsterdam. It gives fashion brands of all sizes everything they need to make sustainable change. 

Let’s make 2018 the year that fashion fights for the planet.