This week saw the publication of, the Environmental Audit Committee’s report on Sustainability in the Fashion Industry Enquiry. It revealed that that today, people buy and discard clothes faster than ever, getting rid of more than 1m tonnes of clothes a year, with £140m worth going to landfill every year.

On average, Britons buy 26.7kg of fashion items each year. With inexpensive designs moving quickly from the catwalk to stores, consumers are only too keen to snap-up the very latest trends, creating the ‘fast fashion’ phenomenon.

A clear case of quantity over quality, mass market fashion followers snap up the affordable items often discarding them months or weeks afterwards, as the next ‘hot’ look appears in stores.

The tradition of introducing new fashion lines on a seasonal basis just doesn’t apply to some retailers any more.   Today, it isn’t uncommon for fast fashion retailers to introduce new products multiple times in a single week to remain on-trend.

Among the recommendations from the Environmental Audit Committee, a cross-party organisation, was the suggestion that all fashion brands and retailers pay a penny per item produced towards a new Extended Producer Responsibility Scheme.

While a penny increase might be unlikely on its own to change consumer behaviour, it will help fund a new Extended Producer Responsibility scheme, which will seek better ways to recycle clothing.

There is no doubt that consumer pr concerns about sustainability are growing, and both individuals and companies are thinking about how they might alleviate their impact on the environment.

It won’t overnight. Boohoo announcing that it was going to stop using wool, only to reverse it’s decision a couple of days later, demonstrates that neither the industry nor consumers will be happy with half thought out attempts at environmental measures.

Encouragingly, a recent study from the Fashion Retail Academy revealed that one in eight consumers are more likely to choose expensive longer-lasting items over cheaper fashionable clothing.

It’s a start. And like the Blue Planet effect on single use plastic, hopefully this publicity might just make us all take a minute to think a little more deeply about whether we really need that extra item in our wardrobes.

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