There’s no doubt the global fashion industry has a lot to answer for when it comes to its sustainability, social and environmental footprint. Statistics are plentiful – and largely point to the sector's linear take-make-dispose model as the root cause of its problems.

It's a format unchanged for decades, where huge amounts of non-renewable resources are extracted to produce clothes that are often used for only a short time, after which the materials are mostly sent to landfill or incinerated. This is the case for a staggering 87% of the total fibres used for clothing, and means that every second the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. And an estimated US$500bn in value is lost every year due to clothing being barely worn and rarely recycled.

Total greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production, at 1.2bn tonnes annually, are more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Nearly 20% of global wastewater is produced by the fashion industry; and washing clothes releases half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres into the oceans every year, equivalent to more than 50bn plastic bottles.

So it’s clear the current model of overproduction and overconsumption is untenable. But what are the alternatives? Encouraging lower consumption, moving to more environmentally responsible production, recycling used fabrics, and even new business models offering rental and repair services are some of the suggestions. But the real game-changer would be a shift to a 'circular' or no-waste economy, changing the way garments are designed and produced, shipped, bought, used and recycled in order to recirculate raw materials, eliminate waste and reduce the use of valuable resources.

In the second issue of just-style magazine we look at some of the efforts underway. This includes the new Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, 20 innovators who are creating a sustainable future for fashion, the challenges of shaping a new circular fashion economy, green initiatives in China and Bangladesh, and how Levi Strauss is working to drive sustainable change in the denim industry.

Leonie Barrie, Editor

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