Image above: Smartly dressed in 100 percent Swedish paper. Wood becomes paper, which is turned into fabrics. Photo: Smart Textiles.
The fashion industry must contribute to the UN’s climate goals and act for sustainable fashion and recycling of garments. That was a clear message from the global climate summit UN Environment Assembly where Swedish Smart Textiles participated.
When the global climate summit UN Environment Assembly was held March 11-15 in Nairobi, Kenya, Smart Textile’s manager Susanne Nejderås entered the Swedish delegation under the leadership of environmental minister Isabella Lövin.
“I was given the opportunity to talk about the national platform Textile & Fashion 2030, which is the Swedish government’s mission on how Smart Textiles will lead the development towards reduced environmental impact in the textile and fashion industry,” says Susanne Nejderås in an interview on Smart Textiles website. (Smart Textiles is a Vinnväxt initiative that is partly financed by the Swedish innovation agency Vinnova.)
Textile & Fashion 2030 is not just a national platform, but most of all a global concern, says Susanne Nejderås. The approach is to look at the entire life cycle, the entire product’s value chain, from raw material to production and recycling of garments.
“A clear goal we have, which is also based on several of the UN’s 17 global goals, is that the life of a garment should go from two years to ten years. This requires a major restructuring of the entire globally industry. Smart Textiles wants to be at that cutting edge,” says Susanne Nejderås.
Smart Textiles and sustainable fashion
A press release from the UN Environment Assembly states that the fashion industry is the second-biggest consumer of water, generating around 20 percent of the world’s wastewater and releasing half a million tons of synthetic microfibers into the ocean annually. It is responsible for 8-10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
At the assembly, The UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion was launched, seeking to halt the environmentally and socially destructive practices of fashion, and instead harness the industry as a driver for improving the world’s ecosystems.
Need to radically change consumption
“In the face of growing environmental threats, there is an urgent need to radically change our consumption and production systems. In this regard, a more sustainable fashion industry has a critical role to play,” said Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility.
The fashion industry is valued at around $2.4 trillion and employs over 75 million people worldwide. It loses about $500 billion of value every year due to the lack of recycling and clothes that are thrown into landfill before ever being sold.
“By using fashion as a form of activism and empowerment, the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion doesn’t perceive sustainability as a limitation to fashion, but rather a trigger for bringing real creativity and passion into the industry,” said H.E. Siim Kiisler, President of the UN Environment Assembly.