© 2023 by Emily Tollner

The Environmental Audit Committee, (A group which explores the environmental protection and sustainable development of both government departments and public companies.) launched an inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry. 

In autumn of 2018, they wrote to 16 leading UK fashion retailers asking what steps were being taken to reduce the environmental and social impact of the clothes and shoes being sold. 

The Interim Report on the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry on the 16 leading fashion retailers was released on the 31st of January 2019. Dividing the retailers into three categories of Engaged, Moderately Engaged, and Less Engaged, with only 5 out of the 16 being in the 'Engaged' group; the report showed little in place for sustainability from fast fashion brands like Missguided, Boohoo. 

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Click on table to read full report 

'Engaged Retailers' means a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and working towards sustainable practices while also receiving support from leading industry initiatives such as SCAP, ACT and Sedex.  

The report states that of the five engaged retailers; M&S is aiming to source 50 key raw materials, representing 80% of materials used by volume from ‘sustainable sources’ by 2050. 

Primark is working towards sourcing sustainable cotton in their supply chain. 

By 2020 ASOS is on route to making 60% of the raw materials from ASOS products to be sustainable sourced and a projection of 100% by 2025, Whilst Burberry plans to become carbon neutral and source 100% of its cotton from BCI (Better cotton Incentive) by 2022 and finally Tescos assures to make 100% sustainable cotton by the end of 2019 and 100% recycled polyester by 2030.  

Not to disregard the efforts and targets put in place by comparing what true sustainability is, it does not measure to the standards. 

 Searching the 5 'engaged retailers' on the Good on You app even with the incentives, none of brands make the mark of true sustainability, Good on You sates unless the brand has set clear targets to increase their ethical range to more than 50% of their products, or are working towards making their whole business ethical, it's greenwashing. 

As well Good on You states its quite comfortable for brands to achieve a 50% emission reduction, without doing much.

 Science Based Climate Target is the top standard, using scientific information to prevent catastrophic climate change. 

'We were keen to question retailers about their polices for unsold stock in the light or reports detailing Burberry's incineration of £28.6M of stock in 2017'

'Recent media reports that workers in some garment factories producing clothing for M&S and Tesco , amongst others, are working up to 16 hours a day and being paid a little as 35p per hour.'

'Schemes outlined to tackle unsold stock include, dissociating through outlet stores, donating to charity and rebranding for sale through third


Images were originally from Good On You

At current rates, we will see a four till Six-degree rise in the earth's temperature over the course of the century and to avoid the most destructive consequences of climate change; world governments agreed to limit warming to below 2c. 

Still off target to lower the worlds temperature,

195 government's around the world gathered in Paris back in 2015 to agree on individual plans to help reach the 2c goal. Although this still doesn't bridge the gap, Science-Based Targets have been made available to companies to help close the emission gap and allow us to reach the target. 

Not one of the 16 retailers are apart of the Science-Based Targets, and therefore their targets might not be in line with doing their part in preventing climate change.

 To summarise The Interim Report, it states that the fashion industry’s current business model is unsustainable, finalising with retailers should engage with these issues and policies to encourage a more transparent fair and sustainable fashion system.

 It is clear to see fast fashion brands have made improvements but, nowhere near the necessary amount to become sustainable and therefore it is important not to regard fast fashion brand with sustainability. 

If looking to be conscious when shopping for new, it is best to support the right sustainable brands which are offered as alternatives on the Good on You app.