Defra launched its new Sustainable Clothing Action Plan at the London Fashion Week in February of this year. Bringing together over 300 organisations, from high-street retailers to designers and textile manufacturers, SCAP aims to raise awareness of the impacts of ‘throw-away’ fashion by improving environmental performance across the supply chain, including the promotion of organic and Fairtrade fabrics, and maximising reuse, recycling and end-of-life management of garments. SCAP also aims to improve education on the impact of the clothing industry and to promote markets for sustainable clothing with associated ‘traceability’ along the supply chain.

Some initiatives:

* Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s have signed up to a range of actions on increasing their ranges of Fairtrade and organic clothing, increasing takeback and recovery of unwanted clothing, and supporting fibres/fabrics that enable clothing recycling.

* Marks & Spencer and Tesco are supporting ‘green’ clothing factories, improving animal welfare across their supply chain and increasing consumer awareness about washing at 30°C.

* Tesco is extending its traceability programme across cotton supply chains to ban cotton from countries known to use child labour, as well as carbon-labelling its own-brand laundry detergents.

* Nike is developing its ‘Considered Design’ ethos to improve the sustainability, performance and innovation of all its product ranges.

* Continental Clothing has measured and reduced the carbon footprint of its clothing products. It is now working with sustainable online retailer Adili to promote carbon labelling to consumers.

* The Association of Charity Shops, Oxfam, Salvation Army Trading and the Textile Recycling Association are increasing consumer awareness of the environmental benefits of clothing reuse as well as increasing clothing recovery infrastructure in the UK. They will open more ‘sustainable clothing’ boutiques of high-quality second-hand clothing and new sustainably designed garments.

* The Fairtrade Foundation will increase the volume of Fairtrade cotton products in the UK to at least 10% of cotton clothing by 2012.

* The London College of Fashion is setting up a Centre for Sustainable Fashion to provide practical business support to the clothing sector on sustainability and fashion.

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For details of independent ethical clothing suppliers, visit our online ‘Organic and Fairtrade Clothing Directory’ at