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Increasing production of new clothes is ‘cancelling out’ carbon reduction, says WRAP

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Urgent environmental concerns are continuing to dominate much of the public conversation about the fashion sector. And climate action non-profit organisation (NGO), the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), has recently issued a fresh warning on the state of efforts to combat such concerns. 

Specifically, the organisation has said that while the fashion sector has been striving to minimise the environmental impact of the clothing it sells, this push has been undermined by an ongoing addiction to purchasing new clothes. 

Genuine progress, but also much reason for concern 

WRAP’s warning was spelled out in its recent annual progress report in relation to Textiles 2030, the NGO’s voluntary environmental pact that counts such big names as Primark and Asos among its signatories. 

Although the 130 participating brands and retailers had achieved a 12% reduction in the carbon impact of their textiles between 2019 and 2022, the same period had seen a 13% increase in the volume of textiles produced and sold. 

As also reported by The Guardian, the average Briton is purchasing 28 items every year. It is a statistic that draws attention to how, in WRAP’s words, hard-won gains are being “cancelled out” due to the production of clothing “spiralling upwards”. 

Do fashion brands – and consumers – need to do more to shift their habits?

There is no question of what a profound role the fashion industry can play in tackling the climate crisis; as the newspaper also noted, textiles and fashion are responsible for as much as a tenth of the world’s carbon emissions. 

Director of behaviour change and business programmes at WRAP, Catherine David, said that the recorded progress the brands involved in Textiles 2030 had made, showed it was possible to change the aforementioned situation. 

However, she lamented that as “as fast as positive improvements happen, they’re cancelled out by rising production”. 

She also drew attention to the role that consumers had to play, stating: “We’re working with companies to improve clothes, but the other part of the equation is our role as shoppers. We [the UK] buy more clothes than any other nation in Europe.” 

Addressing those consumers directly, she said: “Moving into winter is the perfect time to look through our wardrobes – wear what we have and consider whether it’s time to let something go. 

“You can donate, sell, or give clothes away – it all helps them move around the economy and reduce the amount produced.” 

Meanwhile, WRAP has urged businesses to design clothes with greater longevity in mind, encompassing good recyclability and durability, as well as a higher proportion of recycled content. 

Those words will doubtless be borne in mind by many of the brands that are working to optimise their luxury marketing strategy with the help of the Skywire London team. 

As a leading digital marketing agency serving high-end, fashion, and lifestyle brands, we very much echo WRAP’s call for brands in these sectors to be relentless in their sustainability initiatives. For a more in-depth conversation about how you may work with us, please feel free to reach out to us via phone or email


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