Our wardrobes are contributing to a significant portion of waste. It is now estimated that over half of all clothing produced ultimately ends up either in a landfill or incinerated. This shocking figure remains obscured from the high street where fast fashion and environmentally damaging products are still sold regularly. As we now face the consequences of climate change and pollution, changing the way we both shop for and wear clothing is paramount.
Where Does It Go?
Some shoppers are staunchly defensive of their fast fashion purchases, claiming that they will ultimately dispose of their clothing ethically. Recycling is one such method of clothing disposal. However, in recent years, the value of second-hand fabric has plummeted leading to diminishing results. Now, it is far more likely that clothing given to a recycling centre will, ultimately, end up in a landfill since there are fewer buyers for the fabric.
Charity shops are also a common option for people looking to dispose of their clothing and, while this gives the clothing a greater chance of avoiding the landfill, the stores are often overwhelmed with donations, many of which cannot be sold due to damage or quality meaning that they are recycled all the same.
What Can You Do?
If you would like to address your wardrobes ethics and adorn yourself with outfits that support the planet, there are a number of options available. Firstly, and most importantly, let nothing go to waste. Do not be ashamed if you have or are given fash fashion clothing. The most important thing is that you do not let it go to waste.
This could mean upcycling old clothes, giving them new and improved life, whether as part of your own wardrobe or to sell on. Or, alternatively, it could mean upcycling the material to use for other purposes. There is now an abundance of material guides online that showcase how to transform old shirts into cushions, for example. As long as you are preventing the item of clothing from being disposed of, you are helping to justify the environmental cost of the garment as well as often negating the need to purchase a replacement.
When choosing to purchase new clothing, it is important to consider the source and manufacturing of the item. Some clothing designs make their clothing in sustainable and eco-friendly ways, ensuring a fair wage is paid to all those who contribute to its creation. Identifying important terms, such as carbon-neutral and Fair Trade, or even acronyms like GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), will help you to identify which clothing brands are making an effort to eliminate fast fashion practices from their business.
You can also help by supporting smaller businesses and designers, those that produce uncommon and unusual clothing items. By doing so, you are helping to diversify fashion and taking influence away from the high street brands that continue to monopolise clothing retail with environmentally costly production. This also helps to spread the word of alternative clothing producers and help those brands making ethical decisions to reach larger audiences.