Sustainable textiles

Sustainable textiles

Why it matters:

We need to use textiles and packaging to clothe ourselves, furnish our homes, and carry and store items. The current volume of textiles and packaging production and waste is already unsustainable and continuing to grow.

The clothing, furnishings and packaging industries have high carbon footprints due to the amount of resources and energy required in production, the high volume of new products we consume, and inappropriate resource disposal in landfill.

Fossil fuel based plastics release large amounts of greenhouse gases over their lifetime which contribute towards climate change – there are also other risks to human and environmental health from plastic littering.

Some products may become unavailable due to climate change related impacts. Climate change may cause land and resource use conflicts in the production of plant based textiles and packaging due to fewer available sites suitable for growing.

Fertilizers and pesticides are often used in growing plant based materials which release greenhouse gases and pollute water resources.

Purchasing from a global marketplace means products can have high transportation emissions or more detrimental impacts upon the environment if legislative protections are weak in the country of origin.


What the public sector is doing:

World / Europe:

EU strategy to make all plastic packaging in Europe to be recyclable or reusable by 2030.
EU directive to reduce plastic bags to 40 per person annually by 2025.



UK government pledge to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042.
UK government has banned microbeads production and sale.



Welsh Government has set out measures in the ‘Environment (Wales) Act’including increasing the types of plastic bags which are required to carry a charge. There is a proposal to pilot a trial of Deposit Return Schemes in Wales.


What the third sector is doing:

Keep Wales Tidy – sets standards for high quality parks, beaches and other green spaces through their awards and helps communities with litter cleaning campaigns.
MSC Plastic Challenge – advice and guidance on going plastic free.
Repair Café Wales – find your local repair café to learn how to fix your clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles etc.
Too Good to Waste – re-use and recycling charity in RCT area.
WRAP – Love Your Clothes – citizen-facing campaign that aims to reduce the environmental impact of clothing and influence a more circular approach to clothing globally. It’s been developed together with industry organisations to help change the way the consumers buy, use, and dispose of their clothing.


How you can make a difference:

Resist impulse buying and take a step back to consider whether you need new clothing, furnishings or packaging before purchasing.

If you must purchase an item try to get it second hand or at least avoid purchasing items which cannot be recycled or biodegrade.

Try to think about how long an item will last, where it comes from and what the impacts of its production might be – looking for labels like organic and fair trade can aid sustainable purchasing decisions.

Remember to take your reusable bags, cups, straws etc with you and refuse single-use items.

Repair your items or upcycle them into new or modified clothes, bags and furnishings.

Swap your items with friends and family or take them along to organised exchanges.

If a product has reached the end of its usefulness for you remember to recycle it if possible instead of sending to landfill.

Take part in clean up campaigns at your local beach or park.


Photo by Ethan Bodnar on Unsplash