The European plan that will lead to the end of fast fashion by Valeria Boi
With the development of urbanization and industrialization, the 19th century was characterized by air and water pollution growing more and more through these 200 years, and all the world institutions were committed to implementing measures aimed to sustainability.
It was in 1973 when the European Union started its Environmental Policy showing a real concern about the conditions of the planet and a few days ago, the 30 March 2022, the 27 member states put in place proposals to build a sustainable industrial system, including fashion. The reason to act on fashion is in the use that we are making of textiles in everyday life. Synthetic textile fibers such as acrylic, polyester and acetate, just to name a few, are produced from fossil fuels, using petrochemicals and non-renewable resources that have an impact on the environment during production and consumption.
For decades fast fashion has been basing its production on these synthetic fibers, these garments are not recyclable and are contributing to pollution and climate change. Exploitation of raw materials and workers is another problem of the mass production of cheap clothing, oriented towards maximizing profits and putting employees in unsafe and underpaid working conditions.
The European Green Deal affects mostly the big chain stores which from now will have to follow the rules imposed by the commission, and it will be hard but necessary to eradicate this business model for a globally sustainable production model, because as the commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said “We want sustainable products to become the Norm”.
These strategies aim to produce a circular economy through recyclable textiles reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, acting on different fronts. First, using eco design projects in the industry, creating a limited/zero impact on the environment with the minimum levels of resources, reducing the use of water and energy.
The final product have to be durable, repairable, resource efficient and with a Digital Product Passport, which can refer the clear information about the fibers produced and used, if there’s presence of microplastics, with details for an easier repair and recycling process of products. And here is the link with the second point of The Green Deal, spreading awareness to customers, giving them correct information about sustainability and lifecycle of the products.
It’s crucial to identify and crackdown on greenwashing that provides misleading information about a brand’s products: with a green claim a company can lead customers to buy and believe they are part of a sustainable project that is actually not true.
Through the Transition Pathway, innovation and digitalization will be an important part of the industry, the European Commission will engage with companies to boost up resource-efficient manufacturing processes, reuse, repair and other new circular business models in the textiles sector.
Fast fashion industry is encouraged to produce responsibly, reducing the number of collections per year and using low environmental impact production systems, taking care of all the lifecycle products from the raw material to the moment it will become waste.
This EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles ensures that products placed on the EU market by 2030 will be recyclables and free from harmful substances, and customers will not longer be attracted to buy in fast fashion stores because they will see the benefits from the new circular textiles ecosystem: reduce gas emissions, reduce external energy dependency, workforce with the right skills.
The EU Members will support the sector of second-hand and repair markets and slowly fast fashion shopping will disappear from customer’s habits. It could seem hard to believe in such a circular economy when customers are still buying from fast fashion and some famous cheap brands, now viral on Tik Tok, are increasing their business. As the EU said, this will be a long-term plan and fashion industries need time and technologies to implement all the plans, and customers will slowly learn to get correct information about fashion products, starting to shop differently for the sake of the environment and society.
Valeria Boi, London