Stella McCartney slams 'wasteful' fashion industry

Fashion designer Stella McCartney said the fashion industry is “incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment” as she unveiled a new vision for its future alongside environmental campaigner Ellen MacArthur.


Stella McCartney andEllen MacArthur are asking brands to rally behind their circular economy vision and launch a new wave of cross-industry collaboration - Ellen MacArthur Foundation

McCartney and MacArthur have joined forces to call on the fashion industry to address its waste problem, after a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation revealed that the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second.

Launched in May and presented this week at The Victoria & Albert Museum, the report A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion's future paints a dark picture of what could happen if the fashion industry continues to produce at the same rhythm and with the same practices as it does today.

According to the report, an estimated $500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled, and the sector will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2025 if nothing changes. Additionally, half a million tonnes of microfibers are released into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles.

MacArthur blamed the industry’s current ‘take-make-dispose’ model for its waste problem. “Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ presents an ambitious vision of a new system, based on circular economy principles, that offers benefits to the economy, society, and the environment. We need the whole industry to rally behind it,” she said.

Clothes should be designed to last longer, be worn more and be easily rented or recycled, believe MacArthur and McCartney, while brands should explore new materials to ensure clothing can biodegrade without releasing toxins and pollution.

“What really excites me about ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ is that it provides solutions to an industry that is incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment,” commented McCartney.

“The report presents a roadmap for us to create better businesses and a better environment. It opens up the conversation that will allow us to find a way to work together to better our industry, for the future of fashion and for the future of the planet.”

The sustainability activists said finding new ways to scale better technologies and solutions, and exploring new business models are needed to create a new textiles economy, as well as an unprecedented depth of collaboration across the industry.

Industry leaders including Core Partners H&M, Lenzing, and NIKE Inc., and C&A Foundation as Philanthropic Funder have already endorsed the new vision.

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