How the fashion industry affects our planet
Climate change – a controversial yet pressing issue facing our generation today. One that requires urgent action from all of us if we want to avoid irreversible damage to our planet. The fashion industry in particular is a considerable contributor to the problem and is one of the most polluting industries that exists. It is responsible for producing about 10% of global carbon emissions, deadly chemical and plastic pollution, and about 13 million tons of textile waste per year.
Evidently, a more sustainable approach is required to reduce the industry’s carbon emissions and impact on climate change; in fact, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation report predicts that “if nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget”.
The 2020 BAFTAs’ attempt to reduce its carbon footprint
In 2020, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts held its 73rd awards ceremony. Though this was the first ever BAFTAs to go entirely green and be carbon neutral. The BAFTA Chair, Dame Pippa Harris, stated “Like everyone, we are increasingly concerned about the impact of climate change and it just feels like we can no longer do nothing, that is just not acceptable”.
The BAFTAs are a highly prolific event with massive cultural impact, drawing an impressive line-up of A-list stars from the film and television industries. Millions of viewers from all around the world tune in not only to see the results of the awards ceremony, but to see who and what their favourite celebrities are wearing. The 2020 ceremony which aired on BBC One drew in an audience of 3 million viewers, and even long after the event was over, it was eagerly discussed on social media and news outlets by film, television and fashion fans.
With so many people watching and listening, these institutions and their influential celebrity guests undeniably have an incredibly highly raised platform, along with which comes a responsibility to promote ethical values, including the importance of sustainable fashion.
And so the 73rd BAFTAs aimed to ensure all aspects of the event were organised to reduce the event’s environmental footprint and promote sustainability. Attendees’ tickets and programmes, and the red carpet were made using recyclable materials; single-use plastic was banned; the guest dinner consisted of vegan starters and pudding and sustainably sourced produce; and the traditional luxurious guest goody bags were entirely scrapped.
A call for a greener Red Carpet:
The Red Carpet is an incredibly powerful and influential platform. The fashion itself allows the wearer to make a statement, take a stance and express their values. And with the existence of social media, the fashion – and what it represents – can be quickly shared, discussed and dissected by a global audience. This is especially pertinent to celebrities and influencers with large followings consisting of millions fans and social media followers.
In line with their aims to go carbon neutral, the BAFTAs also placed responsibility on their guests to play their role in our fight against climate change, and encouraged a ‘greener’ Red Carpet. The London College of Fashion compiled a sustainable fashion guideline for attendees of the award ceremony, which included recommendations for how they could ensure their outfits were environmentally conscious. The guide also encouraged guests to rent outfits instead of buying, to re-wear what they already own, buy vintage, or opt for an environmentally conscious designer.
While the Academy itself was able to practically host a carbon neutral event, many of their celebrity guests failed to pull their weight. Choosing to ignore the optional, yet reasonable guidelines to engage with sustainable fashion, the majority of the A-List attendees continued with their usual Red Carpet fashion decisions to purchase brand new outfits from more recent collections from big designer brands. Outfits they are hardly likely to wear again. Clearly, the fashion industry as a whole must do a lot more in order to change, beginning with individuals taking personal accountability for their actions, understanding the weight of the situation at hand, and recognising the value of the platform they have.
Eco-friendly fashion looks of the night:
However those attendees who did comply and understood their vital responsibility should be commended for their efforts and contribution to the fight against climate change. Here are some of the greenest looks from the 2020 BAFTAs Red Carpet:
- Saoirse Ronan:
- Nominated for Best Actress for her work in ‘Little Women’, Ronan wore a minimalist black Gucci gown made using discarded satin fabric.
- Kate Middleton:
- The Duchess of Cambridge chose to recycle her wardrobe and re-wore a cream and gold Alexander McQueen gown she has owned since 2012.
- Joaquin Phoenix:
- The American actor who collected his award for Best Actor at the ceremony chose to wear a custom-made tuxedo designed by Stella McCartney – the same one he had vowed to wear to every awards show in 2020 in an effort to reduce textile waste.
- Olivia Coleman:
- ‘The Crown’ actress opted for a black gown embroidered with floral details, which she accessorised with lab-grown diamond earrings.