Could the Fast Fashion Tax be the future solution to the industry’s waste problems?

Kuben Edwards is a South African-born entrepreneur based in Shoreditch, London. She is the CEO and founder of onezero8, a company that offers circular solutions for fashion waste.

The women-led company is dedicated to solving the global challenges of sustainable fashion production. “We’re in the business of helping companies implement more efficient recycling and waste reduction processes,” Edwards explained.

With a holistic approach to nature at its core, I sat down with Edwards to discuss fashion waste and why it’s essential to change the industry’s approach to the problem.

How can the fashion industry change what it offers?

Everyone has a different idea of ​​what fashion ‘changes’ should be adopted. I like to keep things simple. In order to change something, we need to use better quality fabric. Yes, it will be more expensive, but if we pay more, we might encourage ourselves to treat our clothes better.

Many believe that big companies are to blame, what do you think?

The big companies that control the fashion industry must be held accountable because they are the same people who run the fast fashion brands along with their sustainable collections.

Driven by the presentation of a greener image, fast fashion brands are feeling the pressure to have accompanying, sustainable collections. They remain in the production of fast fashion. Most see it as an opportunity to clean up their image and make money. Therefore, prominent companies should set the tone. Changes must come from the top because if they lead by example, the result could be a domino effect that would trickle down to consumers.

Landfills are a big problem for which no one seems to have a concrete solution. What are your thoughts?

Landfills in some countries are like walking down a high street of waste. You will see labels that scream about brands like H&M, Marks & Spencer, GAP etc. Well here is the solution; sending our textile waste abroad should be made illegal. This will force governments to invest in finding solutions to our waste. We wouldn’t make our waste someone else’s problem.

We would most likely act faster if we had to keep the clothing waste in our country because the problem would no longer be in sight; it would be in our “back garden”.

Is giving textile waste a second life a long-term solution?

What is tragic is that we can use the waste. Clothing waste is money that we like to throw away. I don’t understand why we can’t see its value and change the way we treat our clothes. It seems so obvious, but nothing is done.

So let’s think more broadly. Upcycled clothing waste should not only be for clothing, but also for lifestyle items. Let’s use it to create better living situations, i.e. to work alongside social housing projects in the United Kingdom.

What would you do if you could click your fingers and force something to bring about instant change?

In the UK there is a tax on sugar, alcohol and cigarettes because these are products that affect health and life, so there should be a tax on fast fashion because it is a business that affects both our health and the environment. So if something bad affects the planet and people, it should be taxed.

Last words?

We need good legislation to make fast fashion better. First, we need to start from the root of the problem and avoid the cheap and fast mentality. For example, what if we created a clothing sorting solution in the UK that could help tackle clothing waste? If fast fashion has to meet specific sales requirements over time, that’s a start. Finally, why are human rights still an issue in 2023? We need standard global legislation that creates the perception that this is unacceptable. Make companies think about how their products are made and who makes them. If accountability is Robin, legislation must be Batman.

Kuben Edward’s next stop will be Munich Fabric Start, where he will participate in a panel entitled: FUTURE MATERIALS: THE RACE FOR NEW TEXTILES, together with Kirsi Terho (Infinite Fiber), Marianne Uddman (Trustrace) and Simon Angel (MUNICH FABRIC START).

The talk will explore how textiles are getting a sustainability makeover thanks to recycled textiles, regeneratively grown cotton and mushroom-based leather, while asking the question: are these materials worth the investment and long-term commitment required to scale up?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023, Munich Fabric Start, 14:00 – 15:00; TREND SEMINARS | Ključnica – hall 5

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