Blog: Fast fashion and the climate crisis

12th December 2022



Cllr Phil Williams, the Lead Member for Environmental Services, Climate Change and Sustainability, looks back at the council's recent Fast Fashion Conference.

There have been many highlights for the team here at Three Rivers District Council this year – including our Solar Together scheme, Green Homes Grants, grassland management and more. 

But I wanted to tell you a bit about a very special event we held in November - our Fast Fashion Conference at Watersmeet in Rickmansworth. Residents came together to understand and discuss the impacts the textiles industry has on our environment, and how we can limit them.

The evening began with the showing of three clips to introduce some of the issues associated with fast fashion, from the water it uses and pollutes, to the piles of discarded textiles left in Africa.

Watch the clips:

Textiles Mountain

How much water do you wear?

The shocking truth about fashion

The panel gave a short presentation on their experience in the industry, the challenges they face, why they do what they do, and what some of the solutions may be. The panellists included local resident Gillian Watt, who has over 20 years working in sustainable fashion, the Chief Executive of the Charity Retail Association, Shelly and Nikki who run LovedUp ReLoved, a local business selling, swapping and upcycling clothes, and Elen Roberts,Three Rivers District Council's Climate Change, Sustainability, and Recycling Officer.

The evening moved onto a Q&A session with the panel, discussing a number of different issues, solutions, and the barriers we face in changing people behaviours when it comes to purchasing clothing as well as what large companies could be doing to help reduce the problems.

Afterwards attendees exchanged contact details and ideas with the intention to address this issue further in their own communities and support each other’s projects and campaigns as well as help spread the word.

With textiles production contributing more to climate change than aviation and shipping, this is something we must tackle to reach our net-zero emissions and protect our environment for future generations. Not only does it generate greenhouse gasses, but it is also responsible for water pollution, plastic microfibers and uses inconceivable amounts of water at a time when many people struggle to access fresh water at all.

The conference was a fantastic opportunity for residents to come together and share ideas on tackling a huge issue which everyone contributes to and has the power to change.

If you are interested in working as part of a voluntary group to help reduce consumption of textiles and limit the impact the industry has on our planet, please contact