Putting the brakes on fast fashion

Lorna Slater on the launch of the Circular Textiles Fund and what that can do to mitigate the cost to the planet of fast fashion.

Last week I was delighted to join Zero Waste Scotland in announcing a £2 million Circular Textiles Fund to cut the environmental impact of the textiles industry.

Every material that is wasted comes at a cost to our planet, but it’s clear that textiles are having a disproportionate environmental impact. According to the European Parliament, the textiles industry alone accounts for ten per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions.

More locally, Zero Waste Scotland’s latest Carbon Metric report shows that textiles, which make up just four per cent of Scotland’s household waste by weight, account for nearly a third (32 per cent) of the total carbon impact of that waste.

One thing that has hugely exacerbated its impact has been the rise of ‘fast fashion’, which has increased the quantity of clothes that are being produced and thrown away.

Our fund will support initiatives that aim to cut demand for new clothing, employ sustainable manufacturing processes, mitigate the pollution from washing textiles and make them easier to reuse and repair.

It is a challenge that many in the industry are stepping up to. The Textiles 2030 initiative has seen many of the biggest textile producers coming together to work for people and the planet. They have committed to halve their carbon footprint and reduce their water consumption by 30 per cent.

The important thing is not just to meet targets, but also to ensure that they are reflective of a broader and more long-term cultural change in the textile industry and beyond. The fund that we have introduced will help them to secure that change.

This fund doesn’t exist in isolation. It is part of a bigger drive to build a more sustainable economy. Last month I was proud to launch the consultation for the Circular Economy Bill, which I will be taking through Parliament. A circular economy is one where we design things to last; reusing and repairing while wasting as little as possible.

As part of the Bill we will improve recycling services and introduce new regulations to stop companies from destroying unsold goods and ensuring that, instead, they go to people who need them. These are the kind of ambitious steps that we need to be taking if we are to reduce waste and build a greener future.

We want to make a circular option the easiest option for Scottish households, businesses and the public sector. If we are to succeed, then we need to make it easy for people to do the right thing for the planet.

That is why, next August I will be launching a world-leading deposit return scheme. It will be the first scheme of its kind anywhere in the UK and will help us to recycle billions of bottles and cans every year.

Every day I hear about the different steps that businesses and communities are taking across our country to reduce their carbon footprint and tackle the climate crisis. This is even more important in cities like Edinburgh where waste levels are highest.

Every choice we make has an impact on the world around us. So let’s make the right choices and help to secure a better and greener future. That can be big systematic changes or individual actions like buying from charity shops or repairing holes rather than throwing away otherwise usable items.

From fashion to furniture, there are huge opportunities for businesses with excellent and creative ideas to cut carbon emissions and do their bit to address the problem. With Greens in government we are doing everything we can to make it happen.

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