Cover Stella McCartney's Reclypse trainer collection (Photo: Stella McCartney)

The figures from COP26 are damning—the fashion industry is still one of the biggest threats to our global environment

It's never been more important for brands and their consumers to embrace sustainable fashion and, thankfully, many high-end brands are striving to make greener choices. From Stella McCartney, who is attending this year’s COP26 and just released a sustainable shoe collection, to Burberry and Patagonia, who have been designing garments with sustainable aftercare in mind, there are more options for eco-friendly buyers than ever.

See more: Sustainable Fashion: This Is What You Forget

That being said, the fashion industry continues to be the second most polluting industry on the planet, with oil production taking pride of place at the top of the list. And at this year’s 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), which brings countries together to negotiate key components to mitigate climate change globally, the fashion sector is a hot-button issue.

Here are five shocking facts discussed at COP26 about the consequences of today’s fashion industry that we should educate ourselves on now:

1. The sector is responsible for up to 8% of global carbon emissions

The fashion industry is also expected to miss the 2030 emissions reduction targets by 50%. Carbon emissions cause climate change as they trap heat in atmosphere, causing global temperatures to rise, weather patterns to change and more regular natural disasters to occur, which is something we are already witnessing.

2. Clothing production doubled from 2000-2015

More clothing means more materials, so more waste is created. This includes pollution from factories, such as dye runoff or over production. Increased production also means increased labour, and more often than not, companies turn to unethical labour practices to meet demands.

3. The number of times a garment is worn before being discarded decreased by 36%

Fast fashion is not slowing down, and with so many seasons and trends that encourage consumers to shop, coupled with the ease of e-commerce, buying clothes has never been easier. Little thought is paid to what happens to clothes after they are thrown away.

4. In one life cycle of garments, the use phase is responsible for 24% of the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions

The use phase includes washing, drying and ironing. Ironing for just two hours emits 4.8 pounds of carbon dioxide, so try to dry clothes on a sunny day instead.

5. Changing laundry practices could create the greatest reduction in climate impact

Using an energy-efficient washing machine and only washing full loads of laundry will help reduce water usage. Buying laundry detergents in bulk, choosing green alternatives and selecting eco-friendly packaging all additionally contribute to generating less waste.

See more information about the talk here.


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