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Bad news: The fashion industry is actually slowing down on sustainability

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By 2030, at its current pace of growth, the fashion industry is expected to be worth $3.3 trillion. It will manufacture 102 million tons of clothes and shoes. For comparison, that is the weight equivalent to a half million blue whales. If nothing changes, the world is expected to experience a serious climate-related catastrophe in the 2040s. Many coastal regions will be underwater, food will be scarce, and the coral reefs will be extinct, according to the United Nations’ predictions.

How are these two things related? Fashion is a massively polluting industry that is accelerating the pace of the predicted climate disaster. In 2015, the sector generated 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gases, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. (It also responsible for a fifth of the global water pollution, and a third of the microplastics in the oceans.)

In recent years, the fashion industry appeared to be rising to the challenge of lessening its impact on the planet. But in a disheartening shift over the last year, the pace of improvement seems to be slowing.

That’s according to a new report produced by three organizations with expertise in the fashion industry, including the nonprofit organizations Global Fashion Agenda and Sustainable Apparel Coalition, along with the consulting firm Boston Consulting Group. Based on the report’s own scoring system, the Pulse Index, which takes into account the sustainability targets across fashion brands and the implementation of those targets, the industry improved by six points last year, but only improved by four points this year.

“The industry is still improving when it comes to sustainability,” says Morten Lehmann, Global Fashion Agenda’s chief sustainability officer,........

© Fast Company