Teenagers should stop “slavishly following Love Island fashion” and pick up a needle and thread, according to Environment Audit Committee chair Mary Creagh MP.
Talking to talkRADIO’s Toby Young about the committee’s ‘Fixing Fashion: Clothing Consumption and Sustainability’ report, Ms Creagh said the rise of “fast fashion” had serious consequences for the environment and children’s mental health.
The report, released on Tuesday, aims to combat the societal and environmental costs of the fashion industry by calling for a 1p tax per garment on producers and for children to be taught how to mend, alter and make their own clothes at school.
Ms Creagh said: “We think these skills of repairing clothes, learning stitching and knitting, and creating your own clothes is a really important way for teenagers to reconnect with clothes, rather than slavishly following the Love Island fashions or the Instragram instant selfies and feeling that constant pressure to consume, over-purchase and throw clothes away that is potentially making them very unhappy.
“Activities like knitting can actually help to combat depression, because when you’re working with your hands you haven’t got time to ruminate on how rubbish your life is, and at the end of the day you’ve got something nice and colourful to show for it.”
'Massive global footprint'
Labour MP for Wakefield, Mary Creagh. Image: Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images.
The report finds that the UK buys more clothing per head than any other European country, and tends to wear items less than other countries.
This trend, encouraged in part by the low prices offered by online fashion retailers, has worrying impacts for the environment, the report suggests.
Ms Creagh said: “Fashion is the fourth most carbon-intensive industry on the planet, with a massive global footprint, and all sorts of issues with child labour, bonded labour and underpayment of wages down through the supply chain.
“At the moment the industry is just turning a blind eye to the deficiencies in its model so we’re saying to consumers try to buy less, try to mend more, try to rent and share more before you recycle your clothes.
“The reality is we’re throwing away a million tons of clothing a year and three hundred thousand tons are going to landfill or incineration.”