Fast fashion’s carbons emissions ‘like driving car round world six times’

Oxfam’s research repeats the message that Vivienne Westwood was keen to spread in The Big Issue earlier this month: “The most sustainable thing is to reduce, reuse, recycle”

New clothes bought in the UK produce more carbon emissions per minute than driving a car around the world six times, says Oxfam, in a claim that echoes Vivienne Westwood’s Big Issue message.

The charity’s research found that the textile industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than the shipping and aviation industries combined.

They also reported that more than two tonnes of clothing are bought every minute in the UK with the emissions from buying one new white cotton shirt equating to driving a car for 35 miles.

Overall, the emissions from new clothes bought in the UK every month are greater than those from flying a plane around the world 300 times with each adult spending £27 on fast fashion monthly despite owning two unworn items. And that’s not counting the 11 million garments Oxfam estimate end up in landfill in the UK.

Add in the poor working and pay conditions for workers making the garments in some of the world’s poorest countries – who are feeling the effects of climate change disproportionately to their greenhouse gas output – and the message is clear: fast fashion needs to go.

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“We are in a climate emergency – we can no longer turn a blind eye to the emissions produced by new clothes or turn our backs on garment workers paid a pittance who are unable to earn their way out of poverty no matter how many hours they work,” said Danny Sriskandarajah, chief executive of Oxfam GB, who are launching a #SecondHandSeptember challenge asking people to reuse their old clothes.

“These staggering facts about fashion’s impact on the planet and the world’s poorest people should make us all think twice before buying something new to wear. As consumers, it’s in our power to make a real difference.”

Oxfam’s message echoes fashion icon Vivienne Westwood’s own pleas in The Big Issue earlier this month.

“The future for the fashion industry should be to produce quality not quantity,” said Vivienne. “Let me clarify, the fashion industry is quality, the high street is quantity. The high street, fast fashion and online quick sales are far more polluting than high fashion.

“It’s awful. The most sustainable thing is to reduce, reuse, recycle. But for the fashion industry, it relies on the production process and suppliers reducing their carbon footprint too.”