Nordic fashion to become the most sustainable in the world

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Just through the textiles they buy, every year, each Nordic citizen is responsible for carbon dioxide emissions equivalent to a drive from the far north of Norway to Denmark. The Nordic Ministers for the Environment are joining forces against pollution from the fashion and textile industry by way of a new action plan for textiles.

Source: Michael Funch/Norden.org
Source: Michael Funch/Norden.org

Scandinavian design is already world famous. Now it’s the turn of the Nordic fashion and textile industry, which is set to become the most sustainable in the world. The vision of a new Nordic action plan presented by the Nordic Ministers for the Environment in Copenhagen today is for the Region to “lead the way when it comes to sustainable design, consumption, and production”.

The objective of the action plan is for fashion and textiles to be part of a circular economy by 2050, in which the lifetime of products is extended, and textile fibres are kept in a closed circuit in which they are used over and over again. Tomorrow’s fashion designers play a key role in this action plan:

“We want to develop a Nordic academy for sustainable fashion and design to educate designers throughout the Region in sustainability. There’s also a range of new business opportunities within green fashion – the Region can contribute to solving global environmental problems while creating growth and jobs,” says Denmark’s Minister for the Environment Kirsten Brosbøl.

Major environmental damage

The fashion and textile industry’s tremendous need for water, energy, chemicals, and pesticides not only makes it one of the world’s biggest polluters, but also has devastating effects on both the environment and the people working in the industry.

Through their action plan, the Nordic countries are joining forces to confront this problem:

“We share our Nordic neighbours’ focus on the environment, social responsibility, and green growth, making our co-operation on fashion and textiles a natural step forwards. We are going to create sustainable clothing for a circular economy in which fashion lasts longer and textile fibres are used over and over again,” Brosbøl says.

The action plan for textiles, which is an initiative by the Danish Presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers, is the first step towards making Nordic fashion the most sustainable in the world. The plan consists of a series of specific and sustainable initiatives, and is due to run until 2017.

Facts

• Each inhabitant in the Nordic countries buys 13 to 16 kilos of clothes per year.
• In 2011, 34,400 tonnes of textiles were produced in the Nordic region. Aside from this, a considerable amount of textiles for the Nordic fashion industry is produced in Asia. In 2012, net imports of textiles to the Nordic region totalled 316,000 tonnes.
• Significantly more water is required to produce textiles for the average Nordic consumer each year than is consumed by a Nordic three-person household. In manufacturing these textiles, the amount of carbon dioxide produced is equivalent to a 2,000-kilometre car journey.

Sources: Nordic Council of Ministers and Denmark Trade Council.

** This post first appeared on Norden here.

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