Climate Action

Clothing firms urged to act on plastic pollution at London Fashion Week

Today is the start of London Fashion Week and environmentalists have called for a solution to the growing plastic pollution crisis.

  • 14 September 2018
  • Rachel Cooper

Today is the start of London Fashion Week and environmentalists have called for a solution to the growing plastic pollution crisis.

Friends of the Earth have published figures on how the textile industry is harming the environment.

It has been reported that two thirds of UK clothing could be made from synthetic plastic material, such as polyester, acrylic or polyamide. When these plastic-based clothing items are washed they shed millions of tiny microfibers.

These microfibers are so small that they can be mistaken for food by some of the smallest creatures in the ocean, which are then consumed by larger creatures as part of the food chain that much of our planet’s ocean and terrestrial life depends on.

They state that clothes washing in the UK is estimated to generate around 4,000 tonnes of plastic microfiber pollution every year, of which 1,600 tonnes could be ending up in our rivers and estuaries, based on a study from the European Commission.

This coincides with a new Friends of the Earth commissioned poll by YouGov that shows 45 per cent of people are unaware of the amount of plastic in clothes.

Emma Priestland, Friends of the Earth Plastic Campaigner, said: “The fashion industry is a major contributor to plastic pollution, shedding tonnes of tiny plastic microfibers into our oceans via our washing machines every year. Eco-conscious shoppers can play their part by embracing slow fashion and choosing better quality, less-polluting clothes or buying vintage items.”

Previously the British Government have introduced a charge on plastic bags in shops as well as trying to implement a ban on plastic straws in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic pollution. However, environmentalists are calling for more action from the government.

Emma Priestland adds, “Ultimately, to end the plastic pollution crisis, we need government action to phase-out all but the most essential plastics.”

This news follows Burberry’s pledge to stop destroying unsold items in a bid to align with the circular economy.

The start of London Fashion Week has also seen designer duo Vin + Omi feature sustainable bags made from plastic bottles.

To find out more about plastic in the textile industry click here.