A BBC report showed that around 92 million tons of textile waste are created each year. By 2030, experts predict that we’d be discarding more than 134 million tons of textiles a year. With this, consumers are starting to think twice about their fashion choices. A new consumer survey in the U.S. revealed that around 72% of consumers are aware of the environmental sustainability issues in the fashion industry. Therefore, 52% of consumers are consciously supporting sustainable fashion brands.
Apart from that, consumers can also consider the possibility of recycling clothes to mitigate the detrimental effects of the fashion industry.
What is Textile Recycling?
Recycling in fashion refers to reusing or reprocessing used clothing and other textile materials for other purposes. In Asia, the biggest textile recycling hub is located in Panipat, India. The country imports used clothing and textiles from countries like the U.S., U.K., and Germany. These materials are shredded and pulped to make a range of products such as doormats, blankets, and bed linen. Although the textile recycling economy of the small city of Panipat boomed during its early years, the development of new and cheaper materials has caused the textile recycling industry in India to decline.
Modern clothes are no longer made from a single type of material, too. They have complex combinations of fibers and other blends of natural yarns, machine-made filaments, plastics, and metals, which makes it harder for these items to be segregated for recycling. With this, only 14% of clothes and shoes in the U.S. ends up being recycled despite the average clothing waste of 37 kg of clothes every year. In European countries, only a quarter of the 5.8 million tons of textile waste is reprocessed, while the remaining 4.3 million tons are discarded.
Globally, only around 12% of existing material from clothes is actually recycled into new products, which results in more clothes being burned or buried in landfills. Furthermore, less than 1% of the recycled materials are successfully turned into new clothing, which shows that recycling in fashion doesn’t mean all materials get reused.
What Can We Do?
There are various ways to reduce the negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment. Some examples are:
· Buying fewer clothes of higher quality
As consumers, we can protect our environment by buying fewer clothes of higher quality. This means fewer resources and energy is used to make new pieces of clothing, and fewer textile wastes are discarded into our landfills. Moreover, it's more sustainable if we take extra care of our clothes and practice repairing old and functional outfits to avoid buying and throwing away clothes.
· Buying second-hand clothes
Buying second-hand clothes can also reduce our textile waste. Instead of going directly to our landfills, clothes purchased second-hand can enjoy an extended garment life cycle because someone else can use them again. Today, many thrift and vintage shops sell clothes that look brand-new for affordable prices, which can help you save money in the long run.
· Supporting sustainable fashion brands
Sustainable fashion brands like North Face, Stella McCartney, and Bethany Williams are among the many others attempting to switch to sustainable practices by finding innovative methods to integrate upcycling and recycling technologies in their garment production. If we support these kinds of brands, companies will realize that consumers are no longer settling for destructible manufacturing practices. They'll be motivated to make sustainable changes in their operations.
· Urging fashion companies to make changes Ultimately, leaders in the fashion industry have significantly more responsibility for making recycling in fashion more effective. In the same BBC report referenced above, Chetna Prajapati claims that recycling in fashion is futile if manufacturers don’t make fundamental changes in the way fabrics, fibers, and garments are made. Therefore, we need to actively make fashion brands accountable for their practices and demand change. Check out our latest posts for the newest insights on sustainable fashion.
Written exclusively for Dwijproducts.com
by Amelia Coy