A harrowing report conducted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has found that the fashion industry creates more greenhouse pollution than the airline industry. If changes aren’t made soon, the situation will drastically worsen, using up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.

At present, A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future estimates that fashion businesses are creating 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse emissions every year. That’s more than the combined total of emissions produced by international flights and shipping. One refuse vehicle of textiles is thrown in a rubbish tip or burned each second. The plastic from our clothes is also causing more damage to the ocean than cosmetics. “The current wasteful, linear system is the root cause of this massive and ever-expanding pressure on resources,” writes Ellen MacArthur, head of the foundation.

Stella McCartney and Ellen MacArthur, courtesy of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The report’s findings send a vital message, a call for fashion businesses to develop a new textile system fit for the 21st century. But how do we get there? “The fashion industry needs to work together to set a new level of ambition for the textiles economy,” states the report. “In a new textiles economy clothes would be designed to last longer, be worn more and be easily rented or resold and recycled, and would not release toxins or pollution. Exploring new materials, pioneering business models, harnessing the power of design, and finding ways to scale better technologies and solutions are all needed to create a new textiles economy.”

Industry leaders including H&M, Nike and Stella McCartney continue to play an important role in fashion’s attitude to sustainable fashion, pressuring other brands to step up and follow suit. However, the report sets a new level of ambition. “What really excites me about ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ is that it provides solutions to an industry that is incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment,” says Stella McCartney. “The report presents a roadmap for us to create better businesses and a better environment. It opens up the conversation that will allow us to find a way to work together to better our industry, for the future of fashion and for the future of the planet.” Cheers to that.

Read the full A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future report here.