The global fashion industry is responsible for 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2-e and a loss of more than £414 billion each year as a result of wasted clothing, new research shows.
Analysis has revealed that if clothing consumption rises along with GDP projections, the fashion industry will be producing as many as 2.48 trillion more items over the next 30 years. If efforts aren’t made to improve recycling efforts, the UK economy could lose £4.48 billion.
The OECD estimates a 400% increase in GDP by 2050, totalling £351.5 trillion – £7 trillion of which could be accounted for by the fashion industry.
The research dissects comprehensive reports to reveal the environmental repercussions of fashion industry growth, as well as the financial loss from the subsequent increase in wasted clothing.
Goals outlined by the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion call for coordinated action towards tackling social and environmental issues in the clothing industry, including responsible resource use, equal pay for garment workers and improved recycling efforts.
Such reforms could boost the global economy by £148.8 billion in 2030 – equivalent to just 11% of the current retail value of apparel. The most significant areas for reform are reduced energy emissions (£62 billion), responsible water consumption (£29.6 billion) and improved health & safety practices (£29.6 billion).
This is because it takes 2,700 litres of water to make just one cotton shirt – or enough water to sustain one person for 2.5 years. Making a single pair of jeans produces 33.4kg of CO2-e – an amount equivalent to driving 69 miles, or watching TV for 246 hours.