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Why fashion needs a sustainability revolution

Te Whanganui-a-Tara – Urgent action is needed to make the fashion industry more sustainable, experts say.

A change in mindset is needed from consumers and producers. Broader, systemic change is required for fashion’s business model. Amn estimated 70 percent of the CO2 emissions generated by a cotton t-shirt come from washing and drying it.

The global fashion industry has been labelled by many as unsustainable. Experts say people only need to wash their jeans once a month, to save water.

According to the United Nations, nearly 20 percent of the world’s wastewater is produced by the fashion industry and it’s responsible for around 10 percent of global emissions.

Add to that the concern around microplastics from clothing entering the ocean and you get some sense of where this label has come from.

The world cannot afford the trajectory of fashion increasing to as much as 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and that’s the trajectory the planet is on.

There’s a real urgency to shift but there are important questions to answer. How do we take out fossil fuels from the fashion industry?

How do we move to regenerative agriculture? How do we move to make small-scale farmers and even artisans and craft manufacturers essential to create social impact and social justice?

The change needs to be radical. The world has to reduce production and consumption of fashion by between 75 percent and 95 percent.

There’s a responsibility on the consumer as well as producers. People don’t need 20 t-shirts. There needs to be less buying with more sense of responsibility.

People need to understand that even a single t-shirt costs 2700 litres of water to produce, which is two-and-half-years of drinking water for one person.

Over-purchasing sends millions of garments to landfills. Garments that all use large amounts of natural resources, chemicals and produce emissions.

The fashion industry has seen a spectacular growth in the early 21st century. It is now valued at more than $US2.5 trillion dollars and employs over 75 million people worldwide.

Between 2000 and 2014, clothing production doubled with the average consumer buying 60 percent more pieces of garment compared to 15 years ago. Yet, each clothing item is now kept half as long.

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