AN OPPORTUNITY FOR LEADERSHIP IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY The fast fashion industry leaves a harmful footprint on the planet and its people, but there is a way forward.

Approaching a tipping point.

The production, shipment and ultimate disposal of garments is a leading contributor to worldwide environmental degradation. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of global waste water comes from the production of garments. 85% of textiles are sent to landfills or incinerators – 60% within a year of being made.

Meanwhile, workers in developing countries are not always treated fairly. Stories abound of dangerous working conditions and low pay. In fact, research suggests that garment workers are paid only 0.6% of the average cost of a t-shirt.

This situation isn’t sustainable. As populations grow and demand increases, the planet will be unable to keep up with fast fashion’s impact on the environment. Change is needed, today.

There is Good News

Leading companies up and down the fashion supply chain are creating a better future for the industry. A number of manufacturers, suppliers and retailers are improving standards and pledging to change the way garments are created, shipped and sold. But industry needs to do more:

1) Increase Transparency: Make clear to customers how your garments are made, who makes them and what impact you are having on people and the planet

2) Recycle and Reuse: Introduce re-used materials into your manufacturing process

3) Reduce Pollution: Commit to processes that create cleaner air and cleaner water

United Nations Sustainable Alliance for Sustainable Fashion


United Nations Agencies and allied organizations are joining together to form the United Nations Alliance for Sustainable Fashion. The aim is to build a comprehensive strategy across all interested entities for achieving sustainable fashion in support of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by more than 150 world leaders in 2015. As part of the initiative, UN Climate Change ( UNFCCC), has brought together leaders within the industry and other invested organizations to sign the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action to collectively address the climate impact of the fashion industry across its entire value chain.


The charter includes a target of 30 percent Green House Gas emission reductions by 2030 and phasing out coal-fired power and heat generation by 2025. This target is a clear demonstration that the fashion industry is keen to set an example to other sectors with regard the level of commitment required to meet the scale of the climate challenge. Any company or organization professionally engaged in the fashion sector, and which commits to the principles of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action is encouraged to sign the letter of commitment and join the working groups that will be convened shortly.