We all want to look good this time of year, with the shops packed full of novelty knitwear, sparkly sequins and festive fleeces. Cheap prices and piles of choice make it hard to resist a brand new festive jumper, but the truth behind these is not so merry. This time of year makes it easy to see the impact of fast fashion on our planet, highlighting the unsustainable nature of these quick fashion fixes. Festive fast fashion that is often worn just a few times only and are often destined to be put straight in the bin after the big day. A Hubbub report states that in the UK, 25% of Christmas jumpers are thrown away, while a third of under 35’s buy a new festive jumper every year.  We’re fast fashion addicts, with Christmas clothes epitomising the quick fashion hits. As the year winds down and we think about the year ahead, it’s vital we all start to be active in how we can reduce the damaging impact of fashion, developing a sustainable textile industry fit for the future.

The impact of global fast fashion will only get worse

Although the short shelf life of Christmas fast fashion is makes the environmental impact particularly obvious, fast fashion throughout the rest of the year is a massive problem for the planet. A report by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently highlighted how the industry generates greenhouse emissions of 1.2bn tonnes a year, more than international flights across the globe. And it’s only set to get worse. By 2050 the fashion industry will utilise 300 million tonnes of oil per year, as well as adding 22 million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean, creating devastating and irreversible environmental damage. In the UK, each person produces an average of 70 Kg of textiles waste per year. Cheap, fast fashion means we are spending less on clothes yet buying more. There have been many calls for a fashion model with a closed loop, enabling reduced environmental and societal impacts, and big brands are now developing effective initiatives to achieve this.

Collaboration is the key for the future

We’ve written a lot about the sustainability of the fashion industry on our blog this year. Tangible and realistic measures need to be implemented across the industry to ensure true and lasting sustainability of fashion. The Ellen MacArthur Trust highlighted specific measures that need to be taken, including creating safer textile materials, using natural resources more effectively and significantly improving recycling facilities across the globe. However, the most effective method will be changing the disposable culture of fast fashion- including consumer attitudes to those novelty and often throwaway Christmas jumpers. Although consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need for sustainability, the lure of cheap, sparkly Christmas jumpers or £4 novelty t shirts continues to prove hard to resist, and harder to overcome. Mintel recently reported that although people state their honourable intentions, for 80% of women aged 16-24, price was the most important factor.

Make it your resolution to be sustainable

We all want to look great over the festive season, and with shifts in attitude to fast fashion we can. Sustainability has to be the focus of the fashion industry for 2018 and beyond. Brands such as H&M and Nike are making real progress in developing future sustainable solutions, while charities such as Save the Children encourage recycling and sustainability for their yearly Christmas jumper campaign. We must all make conscious shopping and sustainability in fashion essential parts of our resolutions for the year ahead, buying less and buying more sustainably, while also recycling clothes effectively. Collaboration between the consumer, brand specific-initiatives and manufacturers is essential to create a sustainable future, allowing to us to enjoy festive knitwear and sparkly sequins guilt free year after year.

Textile Consult is a management and training consultancy for textile manufacturers and retailers worldwide. Contact us today to see how we can make your business more effective and sustainable.