End of the Line | The Consequences
Fast fashion focuses on speed and low costs to deliver constant up to date collections but excessive and cheap nearly always have consequences.
According to a 2017 YouGov Omnibus survey, 75% of Australian adults had thrown clothing out in the last year. Nearly 1 in 4 had thrown out clothing after wearing it just once. Australians are the second largest consumer of textiles in the world, with the average person purchasing 27kg of brand-new clothing each year.
Why does this matter?As we discussed in Why I Choose Organic Cotton and Reduce Your Fashion Footprint, textile production often involves toxic chemicals, unethical business practices and a vast array of environmental harms, from excessive water consumption to contaminated landscapes. However, what happens after we’ve fallen out of love with our clothing isn’t much better either.
The vast majority of our clothing ends up in landfill, with Australia seeing more than 500 000 tonnes of textiles and leather in landfill each year. While cotton breaks down within months, most synthetic materials take decades, with polyester taking up to 200 years to breakdown.
Even if the clothes themselves aren’t purchased, they can still end up as waste. Burberry was recently in the news for burning $150 million dollars’ worth of unsold clothing, perfume and accessories over the last five years. Instead of selling cheaply, Burberry burnt excess stock to maintain the exclusivity of the brand.
The good news is that fashion companies are beginning to take steps to improve themselves. Independent organisations, industry initiatives and individuals are paving the way for change. A few examples include:
Global Fashion Agenda’s 2020 Commitment http://www.globalfashionagenda.com/
Fashion Revolution https://www.fashionrevolution.org/
Clean Clothes Campaign https://cleanclothes.org/
What can we do?
But what can we do as individuals? Even if we shop mindfully, how do we make sure that clothing at the end of its life cycle doesn’t end up in landfill?
In upcoming journal posts, we will be looking at what the options are for unwanted clothing. Make sure you’re signed up to the Twill & Tee mailing list to avoid missing it. Click on the image below.