The average Briton buys enough clothes to fill a large suitcase every year

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The average Briton buys enough clothes to fill a large suitcase every year – more than any other nationality in Europe.

The scale of purchases was highlighted by MPs as they demanded retailers take action over ‘fast fashion’ – high street knock-offs of catwalk couture only designed to last for a few months. 

British people splash out on some 26.7kg of clothing annually – up dramatically on a decade ago and almost double that of Italians, despite their reputation for being obsessed with style.

Germans came closest to UK residents, buying 16.7kg a year, according to analysis of eight countries by the European Clothing Action Plan project.

The Environmental Audit Committee pointed to the research as it warned that hundreds of thousands of tonnes of clothing are being dumped each year.

The MPs have asked bosses at 10 leading UK clothes shops to reveal their environmental record as part of an investigation.

Committee chairwoman Mary Creagh has written to bosses at companies including Marks & Spencer, Primark, Next, Tesco, Asda and Sports Direct.

She said: ‘The way we design, produce and discard our clothes has a huge impact on our planet.

‘Fashion and footwear retailers have a responsibility to minimise their environmental footprint and make sure the workers in their supply chains are paid a living wage.

‘We want to hear what they are doing to make their industry more sustainable.’

Responses will help the committee investigate how the UK’s fashion industry – worth £28billion a year to the UK economy – can reduce its environmental footprint. 

The committee’s latest report also shows ocean pollution from synthetic fibres, as a single washing machine load can release 700,000 fibres to wastewater, according to research from the University of Plymouth.

Up to 90 per cent of garment workers are paid below the National Minimum Wage, do not have employment contracts, and are subject to intense and arbitrary work practices, the committee was told by from the British Retail Consortium.

The global fashion industry produced more CO2 emissions than international flights and maritime shipping combined in 2015, according to a submission from the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

The committee expects to invite some of the biggest retailers into Parliament for further questioning from November.

 

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