UN forms formal alliance to address sustainable fashion

Photo: @truecostmovie

The fashion industry is one of the most resource-intensive and polluting industries in the world. According to a report published in the journal Nature Climate Change last year, textile production produces 1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year, which is more emissions than international flights and maritime shipping. Over 60% of textiles are used in the clothing industry and a large proportion of clothing manufacturing occurs in China and India, countries which rely on coal-fueled power plants, increasing the footprint of each garment. It has been stated that around 5% of total global emissions come from the fashion industry. Additionally, last year’s Pulse Of The Fashion Industry report revealed that the fashion industry generates 4% of the world’s waste each year, 92 million tons, which is more than toxic e-waste. 

While there have been several international groups like the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation who have focused on fashion sustainability issues, there hasn’t yet been a coordinated global body to help oversee this work. This week the United Nations announced that it will officially launch the UN Alliance on Sustainable Fashion on March 14th, during a media event of the 4th U.N. Environment Assembly in Nairobi, Kenya. Michael Stanley-Jones, the co-secretary of the new alliance said told Women’s Wear Daily that the objective of the alliance will be to “coordinate the U.N. system’s response to the challenges that the textiles, fashion and accessories sectors face in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Michael Stanley-Jones, the co-secretary of the new alliance

Why This Matters: According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, unless the fashion industry changes its practices by 2050, it could use more than 26% of the global carbon budget (which is the amount of greenhouse gases we can emit and still stay on a path to limit global warming to 2° C). Fast fashion and our demand for (relatively) cheap clothing means the average American throws away about 81 pounds of clothes each year. It’s important that the biggest intergovernmental organization is seriously beginning to tackle the issue of fashion sustainability as it’s an enormous (and often overlooked) contributor to environmental pollution and global climate change.

Up Next

One Cool Thing: Gold Medal in Recycling

One Cool Thing: Gold Medal in Recycling

While an Olympic medal is special in its own right, the ones being handed out at the Tokyo 2020 games come with a little extra magic. After Tokyo won its bid to host the games, the Tokyo Medal Project, called on the Japanese people to donate their old recycled old electronic gadgets such as smartphones […]

Continue Reading 132 words
New Federal Bills Target Food Waste

New Federal Bills Target Food Waste

by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A new series of bills have been introduced in Congress that aim to quell food waste. These bills — the Zero Food Waste Act, and the Cultivating Organic Matter through the Promotion of Sustainable Techniques Act (COMPOST) —will reduce food waste and in turn help create jobs, slow climate […]

Continue Reading 552 words
One Cool Thing: Goats in the City

One Cool Thing: Goats in the City


Two dozen goats were unleashed in Manhattan’s Riverside park last week to get to work chomping down on invasive weeds. Crowds of spectators went to the park Wednesday to witness the ceremonial “running of the goats,” as the animals were released into the area, where they enjoyed a multi-course meal of Japanese knotweed, porcelain berry, multiflora rose, and even […]

Continue Reading 199 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.