Urgent call for change: Revitalising textiles for a sustainable future

Guest blog by Dawn Dungate, Director of Operation, East London Textiles

In the ever-evolving textiles landscape, an urgent need for change is evident as the industry undergoes a profound shift. The intricate adjustments post-COVID-19 and in the wake of Brexit have woven threads of change that compel us to re-evaluate how we approach textiles.

Traditionally seen as a reliable source of funding for charities, the textiles industry is undergoing a fundamental shift. The model of fast fashion, once synonymous with rapid cycles and the pursuit of trends, has reached a crossroads. The need to transition from a funding-centric approach to viewing waste textiles as a valuable resource is now more evident than ever.

The aftermath of Brexit has brought about a recalibration of trade relationships and import-export dynamics. Large import duties and altered labour costs in European markets have impacted the traditional flow of textiles. These shifts underscore the importance of adaptability and resilience as the industry navigates new trade realities.

As the industry embraces sustainability, it grapples with the associated costs. Profit margins have tightened, and expenses related to sorting and grading, staff, vehicles, warehouses, and accreditation have risen. Navigating these complexities while staying true to the commitment of sustainable practices is a considerable challenge.

Shifting the narrative from textiles as a funding source to an integral waste stream requires a fundamental change in perspective. The industry now plays a critical role in waste management, championing circular economy initiatives and viewing discarded textiles as valuable resources rather than mere financial contributions.

This transformation necessitates collective action. It is an invitation to industry members to view textiles not only through the lens of funding but as an essential component of a circular and sustainable economy. By embracing this shift, we can collectively drive positive change and contribute to a more resilient and responsible textiles industry.

While embracing a more sustainable approach, the industry acknowledges the inherent challenges. The delicate balance between financial viability and ecological responsibility demands strategic innovation. By investing in technology, adopting circular practices, and committing to ethical sorting, the industry can navigate these challenges and spearhead a more sustainable future.

In conclusion, urgently shifting our perspective from textiles solely as a source of funding to a pivotal waste stream is both a pressing necessity and a golden opportunity. With charity retailers’ invaluable support, championing sustainability and navigating the intricate nuances of change, we are actively crafting a narrative of resilience, responsibility, and the promise of a truly sustainable tomorrow.

We extend our sincere gratitude for your steadfast commitment to this shared vision. Your support is the cornerstone of the positive change we aim to achieve. Together, we are weaving the fabric of a more sustainable and responsible future for the entire industry.

Dawn Dungate, Director of Operation, East London Textiles

23/11/2023 08:11