We have developed a throwaway approach to fashion. With the ability to buy clothes at such a low cost, Does our cost per wear attitude only come into effect to justify something we don’t need?
In a time where the cost of your lunch can equate to the cost of a dress, have you ever wondered what happens when we’re ready to bid a farewell to clothing? According to the EPA, disposable fashion is causing environmental chaos.
- 13.1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year. Out of this, only 2 million tonnes make it to being recycled or reused
- Every year it is estimated that 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced globally. In their lifetime, only a quarter of these will be recycled and three out of the four garments will end up in landfill or being incinerated
- The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association carried out research in 2014 to find out what happens our clothing once sent for recycling.
- 45% are reused as second hand clothing
- 5% are unusable
- 20% are reprocessed and
- 30% are used as industrial rags
The clothing (containing natural fibres) that end up going to landfill produce the greenhouse gas, methane. Although natural fibres are biodegradable (cotton, linen, silk or semi-synthetic fibres) they have often been treated with unnatural processes so they can’t decompose the way natural materials and food can.
Jason Kibbey, the CEO of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition describes how the clothing has “been bleached, dyed, printed on, scoured in chemical baths”. These chemicals can find their way into groundwater or if incinerated, the toxins can cause air pollution. Scary side note – these harmful chemicals can make their way into our domestic water systems when we wash them.
So what can we do?
- Get to know a local seamstress and reinvent something you’re bored of.
- Swap with friends, one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
- If it’s had it’s day look to recycling with a trusted source.
- Going forward be more conscious of what the fabric content of a purchase. Higher quality items will last longer, lessening the impact of fashion on the environment.
- Look at the label. When I need something new now I always think, if this were left in a bin, would it ever disintegrate without causing harm?
How do you do your part? Let us know, we love to hear from you!