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Fast fashion recycling schemes a red herring?

“I love my £6 bra”. That was the headline of an opinion article in the Financial Times last week. The bra in question is made from 50 per cent recycled nylon — ah! Not so bad, you might say — at least it is semi-sustainable. But here’s the problem that sums up one of the biggest issues in fashion today. The journalist returned to Primark and bought four more of them. According to Dijana Lind, an ESG analyst at Union Investment: “The main problem we [the fashion industry] are facing is overconsumption”. Industry sustainability commitments sound convincing.

H&M has admitted to being “part of the problem” and has included textile recycling bins in its stores. Industry sustainability commitments can sound convincing but often don't go far enough. H&M reportedly produces 3 billion items annually to sell across almost 5,000 stores.

Zara-owner Inditex has invested over 3.5 million euros in garment re-use. But Inditex has also listed 10 per cent more clothing items for sale than it did in 2021. The solution to fast fashion’s big recycling issue isn’t simple. In the meantime, companies like thredUP (C5KE) are tackling the issue head-on. One of the US’ largest resale markets for clothing, thredUP have prevented over 1.3 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions to date.

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