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Fashion on the news this week: is fashion wrecking the planet?

By Marjorie van Elven

12 Oct 2018

No time to check the news this week? No problem. Every Friday, FashionUnited offers an overview of what leading news outlets have published on current events related to the fashion industry.

This week was shaken by a wake up call from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The organization published an alarming new report urging governments and businesses around the world to limit the planet’s temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Any increase beyond 1.5°C would significantly worsen the occurrence of floods, droughts, extreme heat and food scarcity. If the world were to get 2°C warmer than pre-industrial levels, 99 percent of corals would die and insects would be twice as likely to lose half of their natural habitats, to name but two of the many disastrous effects mentioned on the report. If countries maintain the current level of emissions, the world is forecasted to reach 3°C of warming.

MPs and media criticize disposable fashion

On Monday, the Chair of the Environmental Audit Committee wrote a letter to the UK’s ten leading fashion retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Primark, Next and the Arcadia Group, asking them to submit evidence of the steps they’re taking to reduce the environmental and social impact of their business activities.

BBC One aired a documentary called “Fashion’s Dirty Secret: Stacey Dooley Investigates” on the same day. The programme showed how the cotton industry has contributed to Kazakhstan’s Aral Sea being reduced to a dust bowl. It also revealed many Indonesians drink water that’s contaminated by chemicals from nearby apparel factories. According to the show, about 300,000 tons of clothing end up in landfill each year.

The Guardian analyzed the role digital influencers play in encouraging conspicuous consumption, and how realistic it is to expect them to be drivers of change. “Within a few years, we will be so aware of this mass of stuff that we’re buying and getting rid of that it’s not going to be so cool for a hauler [social media stars who make videos about everything they bought during a shopping spree] to say ‘I bought all this’”, Orsola de Castro, founder and creative director of the Fashion Revolution Movement, is quoted by the newspaper as saying.

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Image: courtesy of Stella McCartney - where the British designer highlighted how “disposable” items are harmful to the environment in her AW17 ad campaign