Fashion and the Environment

It is vital that we preserve our environment, both in the United Kingdom and around the world, for future generations. Economic progress and environmental conservation are not just compatible; they depend on each other, and the UK Government is therefore committed to being the greenest government this country has ever had.

As you correctly point out, the fashion industry is one of the major contributors to global pollution, and it is important that the industry acts to put itself, and the world, on a more sustainable footing. To this end, I am pleased that the industry is leading the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which is supported in its aims by the UK Government.

The SCAP 2020 commitment includes targets of 15% reductions in the British clothing industry’s carbon footprint, water footprint, and landfill waste by 2020; and the industry is making progress towards these goals. Indeed, over 80 organisations across the United Kingdom have made a pledge to achieve these targets.

There is, nonetheless, more that can be done to improve the fashion industry’s sustainability. I know that my colleagues on the Environmental Audit Committee are currently holding an inquiry into this important matter, and I look forward to the completion of that inquiry, and the UK Government’s response to it.

Moreover, many aspects of environmental protection here in Scotland are the responsibility of the Scottish Government. I know that, in addition to SCAP, some Scottish clothing companies are working with Zero Waste Scotland to improve sustainability. I hope that the light that has recently been shone on this issue will spur positive change at all levels, on top of what is already being done to make the industry more environmentally friendly.