The need and want to express oneself is part of the human experience. We’re all individuals wanting to carry ourselves and display this uniqueness in one way or another, with the most common way being fashion. However, this comes at a cost most aren’t even aware of as this multi-billion-dollar industry does its best at gatekeeping its dirty secrets.
This blog post is meant to uncover the cost of overproduction, so you can make more conscious decisions when consuming.
Between 2000 and 2015, clothing production doubled to a staggering 62 million tons and is estimated to nearly double again by 2030.
Just take a look at this shocking graphic:
To make these numbers more tangible; one garbage truck of textiles is dumped to landfills or burned EACH SECOND. The environmental impact is huge as these garments take decades to degrade, not even regarding pollution, emission and water waste during production.
On top of people throwing out clothing prematurely (if ever worn), the fashion industry produces a huge surplus of clothing each year that’s never sold and gets discarded before it’s ever been worn. Fashion giants like H&M, which pride themselves with their Conscious Collection and “recycling” program, make headlines burning tons of unsold clothing.
Production also accounts for a notable amount of garment wasted as studies estimate 15-25% of textiles ending up on the cutting room floor to not be used ever again. In all actuality 87% of the total fiber input used for clothing is either landfilled or incinerated.
All this is shocking and while there is a lot more to this than we’re able to cover in this short article here are some useful tips and info to help you make more environmentally conscious decisions when consuming.
There are companies and brands out there recognizing that continuing business as usual is not sustainable for anyone. One really effective measure to cut waste and emissions is to produce on demand. This means that clothing items are manufactured AFTER they have been ordered by a customer, ensuring they’re not left over and eventually thrown out without having been worn once. Consider getting your favorite pieces somewhere this is practice.
The most obvious piece of advice, even when it might be hard to follow is BUY LESS and BETTER QUALITY. Think twice before purchasing. On average we wear each item only seven times before it’s tossed!!! Ask yourself whether this piece of clothing alignes with you, will you wear it more often than that? If you avoid buying really cheaply, throwing things out for any reason, eg. because they broke or just letting them in your closet is going to be more painful.
It’s okay not to want to keep everything forever, but if you do want to get rid of clothes do not throw them away! Recycling bins (unfortunately) also aren’t the end solution. In 2015, just 15% of post-consumer textile waste was collected for recycling, and with the amount of overproduction in the industry scaling up fashion recycling won’t ever be able to counteract the effects production already had.
Instead consider selling or swapping clothes with friends, upcycling (plenty of cute ideas on pinterest) or donating them to charity shops like goodwill. Make sure they’re in the best condition possible as only 10% of these clothes find new owners before being shipped off elsewhere.
To sum it up; be mindful when consuming. Always consider if you’re still going to wear a piece next season. Buying second hand is relatively easy on the wallet. Buying sustainably might be more expensive but buying cheap, fast fashion comes at a price none of us really want to pay in the long run.