Earlier today, online fashion retailer Boohoo reported strong half-year profits and rapid growth at its fast fashion brands PrettyLittleThing and NastyGal. Revenue for the entire group had jumped 50 per cent to £395.3m, compared with the previous year, and shows no sign of slowing.
To anyone who cares what the fast fashion industry is doing to the planet, its people and its animals, this is bad news – but hardly surprsing. A single glance at Oxford Street on a Saturday will tell you that we’re buying too much clothing, using it too little and chucking it away too soon to make way for the next purchase.
Or not. According to new stats by YouGov, commissioned by campaign group Traid, Londoners are actually keeping 23 per cent of their clothes, unworn, at the backs of their wardrobes. Now, Traid, with the help of the luminous Emma Watson, has launched a new initiative to help tackle the problem of unworn clothes.
The 23% Campaign aims to put that 23 per cent back into use. Their argument: that it would be a massive practical step in reducing the carbon, water and waste footprint of our out-of-control clothing consumption. And most consumers won’t even notice that that pile of unworn t-shirts and jeans has gone.
“Cheap fast fashion is powering rising consumption and production, placing unsustainable demands on finite resources to produce clothes which are poorly made, barely worn and quickly replace,’ says Andrea Speranza, campaign manager.
“From carbon emissions and use of water in the production of clothes, through to landfill and incinerator when clothes are thrown away, the fashion industry can have a devastating environmental impact. Giving longer life to our clothes by passing them on avoids the purchase of new items reducing the carbon, water and waste footprints of our clothes.”
On the upside, the study showed that, once Londoners were made aware of the benefits of passing on unworn clothes, 61 per cent were ready to leap into gear. And when they are, TRAID will be there to help, offering free home collections, picking up clothes you no longer wear dirt from your door.
The work links into a radical, visionary goal to help the planet: the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 (to ensure sustainable production and consumption by giving longer life to our clothes and reducing our fashion footprint). Never heard of it? Don’t worry. You’re in good company. Neither had 72 per cent of people surveyed.
Doesn’t mean it’s not important, though. The UN SDGs are vital to the future health and sustainability of our planet. We’ve never need them more but, for them to succeed, we need all sectors of society to take part. So, do your bit: shut off the computer, nip up the stairs to your wardrobes and start sorting.