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Nov 10, 2020
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50%+ of UK consumers worry over environmental cost of their clothes - report

Published
Nov 10, 2020

While this year may have mainly been a story of the pandemic, new evidence suggests that consumer concerns over the environment haven’t gone away.


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Environmental charity WRAP issued a report on Tuesday saying over half of UK consumers worry about the environmental cost of their clothes.

In fact, the pandemic seems to have amplified the fears over eco-issues and WRAP said that public awareness of this environmental cost really hit home during lockdown.

And UK businesses need to act, it said, warning major clothing retailers and brands that they must clearly demonstrate their commitment to making sustainable longer-lasting clothes, or risk losing sales.

Its research found that more than half of people now view the environmental impact of clothing as "severe", with 63% saying clothes made to look good and last longer are now factors in the brands and clothing they choose.

The findings are built on earlier WRAP research which found that the public wants inventive new retail options that prolong the life of clothes, including voucher schemes for clothing exchanges (46%), and pre-loved clothes (41%) -- particularly popular among younger and ‘high frequency’ (weekly) clothes shoppers.

Personal habits have also changed during lockdown, with 23% now repairing clothes, and 19% keeping items for longer.

The report said businesses are responding to public demand for clothes with lighter environmental footprints. And major brands and retailers are signed up to the SCAP (Sustainable Clothing Action Plan) 2020 voluntary agreement.

But, warns WRAP, many more aren’t. And those wanting to protect their market share must demonstrate to shoppers and shareholders their commitment to the environment, and sign up to Textiles 2030, the initiative claimed to be the most ambitious national voluntary agreement for clothing and other textiles in the world.

The 10-year Textiles 2030 programme aims to transform UK clothing and home fabrics to reduce their impact on climate change. It will take the UK from a make-use-dispose culture to a circular one where goods are produced sustainably, used longer, and then re-used or recycled into new products.

Textiles 2030 will reduce lifecycle GHG emissions in line with the global goal of a 1.5°C trajectory, cut the water footprint of products and deliver a UK-wide circular textiles road map.

The British Fashion Council, British Heart Foundation, The British Retail Consortium, Cancer Research UK, Charity Retail Association, CTR Group, Institute of Positive Fashion, John Lewis & Partners, Next, Oxfam, Primark, Recyclatex, Re-Fashion, Sainsbury’s, Salvation Army Trading Company, SOEX UK, Suez, Ted Baker, Textiles Recycling Association and Tesco are the first to sign up to Textiles 2030, ahead of its official launch in April 2021.

Textiles 2030 targets cutting carbon by 40%+ to align with 1.5°C global target, cutting water footprint by 30% and creating and delivering a circular textiles roadmap for the UK through collaboration.

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