2020 has been a year filled with challenging and fearful times. However, amidst the unprecedented year, there has been amazing achievements and positive changes to come from the sustainability sphere this year. 

Here are 10 things to bring you joy from 2020:

1 > Lockdown gave the planet a chance to breathe

One positive about spending the majority of this year inside was the huge impact it has on pollution. In Europe, Nitrogen dioxide emissions decreased around 40%, potentially saving 11,000 lives (CREA, 2020). This has given the planet a chance to breathe and we have been able to appreciate the clearer, brighter skies.

2 > #PayUp Success

As stores closed, many retailers started cancelling placed orders with suppliers. In response, Remake launched the #PayUp campaign - pressuring brands to pay in full for their cancelled orders. The campaign has been hugely successful, with over 20 brands committing to paying bills for cancelled orders, totalling a huge $22 billion. (Change.org, 2020)

3 > Plastic-eating Enzyme discovery

Scientists have discovered a mutant enzyme which can break down PET plastic bottles for recycling in a matter of hours (Carbios, 2020). Afterwards, it is good enough quality for new bottles as well as recycled clothing. 

4 > COVID-accelerated conscious consumption 

As shops closed and events got cancelled throughout the year, we started to re-think about our fashion consumption habits. Research shows that since the virus, two thirds of people agree it has become more important to limit impacts on climate change and 71% plan to keep items they already have for longer (McKinsey & Co, 2020). 

5 > #PullUp 

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, fashion retailers flooded to show their support on social media. But, the authenticity of this support was questioned. In a successful campaign, #pulluporshutup trended, forcing brands to commit to hiring more racially diverse corporate staff or - shut up. Since, many have been forced to examine the systematic racism within their own supply chains, from factory to chairboard.

6 > New Clothing Recycling Schemes

2020 has seen the development of new innovations for turning developing new clothing from waste. In March, Fibersort launched an artificial-intelligence powered fabric sorter, turning waste textiles into yarn fit for new clothing. H&M also launched ‘Loop’, the world's first garment-to-garment recycling scheme, which can re-assemble a pre-loved garment without water or chemicals (H&M, 2020).

7. Pressure mounts for unethical retailers

In the height of the pandemic, unethical practices in retailers supply chains were exposed as workers were made to work in unsafe conditions - when sick or without PPE (Labour Behind the Label, 2020). Consumers demanded change. Now, pressure is on retailers and global governments to put ethical guidelines in place to avoid unethical behaviour to continue.

8 > Fur-free progress

2020 saw the end of fur manufacturing and selling in the largest city yet - Los Angeles. (PETA, 2020) Also, in the Netherlands, a mink farming ban became law. Both follow after years of protests and appeals.

9 > Second-hand boom

Sales of second hand fashion items this year are equivalent to 900 double-decker buses - and that’s on eBay alone. Lockdown has rocketed the used fashion market, with June sales up 30% in comparison to March (Fashion United, 2020), extending garments’ lifetimes. Let’s hope it lasts!

10 > Record-breaking growth in renewable energy

Globally, 90% of newly installed energy this year will be renewable (International Energy Agency, 2020). In the next 5 years, green energy usage is on track to overtake traditional sources like coal and oil.

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Imogen Rowley

Writer’s Bio: Imogen is a final year fashion buying and merchandising student at The University Of Manchester.

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