Sustainable Innovation: Reducing Fashion’s Carbon Footprint

Sustainable Innovation: Reducing Fashion’s Carbon Footprint

Would you be more likely to dump your unwanted garments in a used-clothes bin if you knew that they were being remade into next year’s fashion?


With the British high street churning out more and more cheap clothing, consumers shopping as if there is no tomorrow, and waste landfill sites becoming excessively bombarded with textiles, it is refreshing to see that there is still a fight for the sustainability of fashion and reduction of fashion's carbon footprint. Experts estimate that British consumers throw out more than a million tonnes of textiles in the form of clothes and other products every year, wasting textiles as if they were infinite! At the rate we are going we need a more sustainable and eco friendly answer.


A consortium in Northern Europe is creating a machine that can easily, quickly and efficiently sort recycled clothing into different fabrics to be able to recycle fabrics of the same fibers instantly and accurately, thus reducing production cost of fabrics and in turn decreasing landfill sites. Although it is still early days for the fabric sorter, it will allow for a larger market of people to recycle their clothes (instead of merely throwing them away) and see last years jumper as this years newest must-have!


To read more on the matter, click here.

Watch the video for the facts & figures: 



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Comment by Ethical Fashion Forum on August 28, 2012 at 10:33

Hi Steph,

Many thanks for your comment.

The reality of the fashion industry is that in countries where 'fast fashion' is the norm, consumers habitually throw thousands of tonnes of perfectly usable textile into landfill every year. The breakthrough piece of machinery that we blogged about above will enable these clothes, that will otherwise continue to be discarded into landfill, to be sorted quickly and accurately according to what fibers they are made from. Once clothes have been sorted in this way (into categories such as Cotton, Polyester, Wool etc) it is actually very easy to recycle these garments into new ones, which is something that it is difficult and expensive to do at the moment, given that sorting the garments by hand is costly). Therefore, this new machinery is the very opposite of a massive bin! Think of it more as a recycling depo, and the system we have currently as the massive bin. 

Of course, you are right that the ideal would be to find ways to stop people throwing out so much textile, and we do write frequently about initiatives that drive this mentality forwards as well. However, in order to keep pace with the reality of our clothing industry, we must look for solutions to combat these issues in as many directions as possible. 

Many thanks for participating in the discussion, we are grateful for your interest in this issue.

Best regards


Membership Manager

Ethical Fashion Forum

Comment by steph steele on August 23, 2012 at 19:31

You are the ethical fashion forum and yet you say "it will allow for a larger market of people to recycle their clothes and see last years jumper as this years newest must-have!"... are you condoning people to throw away their clothes willy nilly and follow fashion trends just because a massive bin will bundle all the same fibre compositions together? 

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