Sustainability Recap of 2023 | What Happened This Year?



Filled with devastating events and positive breakthroughs, 2023 has been a whirlwind of a year that makes us all the more hopeful for what’s to come. As the year draws to an end, Luxiders reflects on sustainable events and developments that took place. In no particular order, here is the sustainability recap of 2023.


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In September of this year, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana hosted the Sustainable Fashion Awards. It’s an opportunity to showcase recognition for sustainability in the “highest sense” through innovation; commitment to craftsmanship, inclusivity, circular economy, human rights and environmental justice.

Amongst other award winners, Gucci received the Ellen MacArthur Award for Circular Economy for their Denim Project and its “commitment to transforming its productive model to enhance a more responsible circular luxury for the future”. The Denim Project is for incorporating regeneratively-grown cotton in Gucci’s denim collection and thoughtfully combines 74% regeneratively-grown cotton fibres with 26% post-consumer recycled fibres that are re-spun in Italy. Through its partnership with Reganagri®, a certified Algosur farm in Spain, Gucci’s first products under the Denim Project are set to be available from 2024, including a digital passport to trace the product’s journey.



Microplastics such as glitter and microbeads are often found in beauty items, but their “forever” nature has posed a major threat to the planet. To combat this, the EU officially set restrictions for microplastics intentionally added to products under the chemical legislation REACH. According to the EU Commission, these new rules will prevent the release of about half a million tones of microplastics, in hopes to reach their target of reducing microplastic pollution by 20% by 2030. Looking forward, other beauty products such as leave-on cosmetics are also set to be banned from 2029.



Every year, climate protesters come together to show up for the planet, demanding that world leaders phase out fossil fuels. During September of this year, protests were planned in 54 countries, as well major protests at COP28 whilst it was controversially held in the UAE, a prolific oil producer. As protesters become angrier and dissatisfied by leaders’ efforts, more drastic action has been taken to get the message across, with Just Stop Oil protests costing London’s Met Police nearly £20 million alone.



The first transatlantic flight by a large passenger plane powered by only alternative fuel took off in November. The plane, flown by Virgin Atlantic, travelled from London Heathrow to New York’s JFK Airport. The fuel was made entirely from waste products and, according to Virgin, “delivers CO2 emissions savings of up to 70%”, whilst still performing like typical jet fuel. HEFA (Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids) made up 88% of the fuel and the other 12% was made from SAK (Synthetic Aromatic Kerosene), both derived from food waste. Despite being a passenger plane, there were no fare-paying passengers on the flight.



AI has been making waves around the world this year, especially in the textiles industry. The first AI fashion week was held in April, promoting AI as a key tool. Using AI as part of fashion production models encourages “on-demand” production, as demonstrated by Spanish brand Desigual’s first collection powered by AI in July. However, with something so revolutionary, comes consequences. The rate in which this technology is advancing has blurred the lines online, with marketing agencies even creating AI models as influencers. The regulation that has followed only makes sense as the EU agrees a deal with world’s first laws to regulate AI, protecting the public from risks.



Months June, July, August and October have been registered as the warmest since records began, putting 2023 on track to being the hottest year so far. It’s no surprise, as the climate disasters have impacted every part of the world this year, wildfires being the main cause of devastation. Greece, Canada and Hawaii are just a few examples of areas that were engulfed in flames: thousands of civilians displaced and even killed, whilst their land was destroyed. 



With an average growth rate of 15.7% a year from 2023 to 2030, regenerative agriculture has received a lot of attention. The new generation of “carbon farmers” are involved in a movement that involves restoring the organic carbon of degraded soil to help reverse industrial agriculture’s contribution to climate change . Practices include: minimising soil disturbances; cover cropping; increasing biodiversity; integrating livestock and crop rotation, all promoting positive environmental impact.



Hosted by the UAE this year, the annual COP summit featured pledges from multiple organisations and governments for financial contribution to climate damages. Following on from the Paris Agreement, phasing out fossil fuels seems to be a big focus of COP28, despite a report from the UN Climate Change finding that the world is still off track on climate action.

Stella McCartney represented the fashion industry, with her delegation focusing on three key goals: advocating for policy and regulatory change to incentivise sustainable business and the decarbonisation of the industry; continuing a decades-long mission built around human and animal protection and welfare; and building a coalition of global government and business leaders to support and scale investment in a wide range of material and process innovations. Stella McCartney also hosted an exhibition “platforming the future of material innovation” and showcasing 15 next-generation pioneers, including “breakthroughs in regenerative agriculture”.



Government figures suggest that 1.1 billion single-use plates and over four billion pieces of plastic cutlery are used in England every year. With hopes to significantly reduce these concerning numbers, no business is now allowed to sell single-use plastic cutlery, balloon sticks nor polystyrene cups and food contained in England. Scotland and Wales have also implemented similar policies.



The 30th annual World Travel Awards crowned Edinburgh as the most sustainable destination of 2023 in November. Recognising its drive to become a net zero city, the capital of Scotland’s marketing campaigns were highlighted to promote green credentials of local business whilst highlighting low-carbon travel and green spaces. At the beginning of the year in January, Edinburgh also became the first European capital city to sign the Plant Based Treaty, which aims to “tackle food-related emissions from animal agriculture and attributed deforestation”.


+ Highlight Image: © Roman Kraft via Unsplash

Jemima Patterson
Luxiders Magazine