Second, to the oil industry, the fashion industry is the largest contributor to waste in the world. 85% of clothes that are thrown away end up in landfills and 95% of that clothing COULD BE recycled.
Let’s start by establishing, who is driving all this waste?
WE ARE. Big Fashion businesses like Fashionova, H&M, and Zara operate on a system referred to as ‘fast fashion’. This is when new designs are released at ridiculously low prices on a weekly or even daily basis, with the intent to encourage more consumption and higher profits for the business. Since most of these brands aim to sell quantity over quality, this mass consumption creates waste by the millions of tons every year (15.1 million, to be exact).
This concept of designing and producing clothing to be worn, thrown away and replaced with something new operates on a linear system. And to try and counteract or reduce this issue, consumers are encouraged to rather buy higher quality, durable clothing, creating less waste. Unfortunately, in the long run, this solution will not suffice, as we are just postponing action on a much bigger task… Creating ZERO WASTE.
A circular system operates opposite to that of a linear one. By being ‘circular’, clothing is engineered to be recycled, reused and repaired. So instead of disposing your garments at the end of its life, new purpose is given to them over and over again, eliminating waste.
Examples of some circular fashion businesses to support: Patagonia, Rent a Runway, Unravel (IG: @unravel_apparel), Microwave (IG: @microwavehk), Sealand Gear (IG: @sealandgear).
I’m sure you're asking now, what can I do to contribute to this shift?
1) Firstly, as with any other sustainability issue, AWARENESS is crucial. Be conscious of what your buying, where it comes from, who makes it and what you plan on doing with it once you feel you want to throw it out.
2) Shop vintage, local or make your own clothing, instead of buying tons of things you probably don’t need at high street fashion stores such as H&M and Zara.
3) Rent clothes instead of buying. Research some wardrobe rental businesses in your area and rent a dress for your next party instead of buying one and most likely never being able to wear it again, anyway.
4) Sharing is caring... Try to get a group of your friends to buy into the idea of sharing clothing. If you each buy different key items you like and share them, you’ll have 5 of your favorite jackets instead of one ;)
5) Upcycle or rework clothing you don’t wear anymore. There are many ways to transform clothing when they feel like they need a new life. Unravel (IG: unravel_apparel), a new South African fashion startup, upcycles and reworks clothing – so get in touch with them and turn your basics into show stoppers!
If you enjoyed this read, I will attach some links to the Business of Fashion’s articles going into more detail on the circular economy in the fashion industry.
Please leave comments on your thoughts and share this post with other people so we can up that awareness and start making a difference!