British shoppers' love of 'fast fashion' putting environment at risk, warn MPs

Posted On: 
5th October 2018

British shoppers' addiction to new clothes is putting the future of the planet at risk, according to MPs.

The Environmental Audit Committee wants to hear from high-street names like Primark.
Credit: 
PA

The Environmental Audit Committee has written to a string of big-name companies - including Primark, Marks and Spencer, JD Sports and Topshop - amid concerns that firms are not doing enough to clamp down on waste or encourage recycling.

New figures published by the committee show that UK shoppers consume more new clothes than any other European country, while clothing production has roughly doubled in the past 15 years.

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But the cross-party committee fears that the demand for "fast fashion" is taking a heavy toll on the environment.

They say hundreds of thousands of tonnes of clothes end up in household waste every year - with some 80% of that going to landfill and the rest incinerated.

MPs on the committee are also concerned about the impact of microplastic fibres - released when clothes are washed - on the UK's oceans.

Environmental Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh said: "The way we design, produce and discard our clothes has a huge impact on our planet."

She added: "Fashion and footwear retailers have a responsibility to minimise their environmental footprint and make sure the workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage. We want to hear what they are doing to make their industry more sustainable."

The committee has given the group of retailers - which also includes Next, TK Maxx, Tesco and Debenhams - until October 12 to explain how they are helping to curb their impact on the planet and ensure workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage.

Fashion bosses could then be summoned to a follow-up hearing in Parliament, currently pencilled in for November.