These days it is possible to produce clothing at increasingly lower prices thanks to the vast outsourcing of labour and materials to developing countries. Clothing prices are often so low that consumers are able to think of the clothing as disposable. The term "fast fashion" has risen from this type of consumption, where clothing is likened to fast food…quick, cheap and not very healthy.
Unfortunately, this type of clothing consumption truly does have some unhealthy implications for our planet and it's people.
Manufacturing polyester and other synthetic fabrics and dyes requires large amounts of crude oil and the release of emissions that are not Earth-friendly, to say the least. These emissions devastate the quality of air and water at the point of manufacture and beyond.
The EPA Office of Solid Waste states "Americans throw away over 68 pounds of clothing per person, per year".
The Environmental Protection Agency released findings stating if Americans recycled their clothing waste, it would be the same as taking one million cars off the road. In fact, recycling your clothing is more effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than recycling glass!
Did you know that ANY clothing item, even if it's torn or stained, can be recycled? By doing this, you reduce the use of natural resources to create new clothing (things like water for growing textile crops and crude oil for synthetic fabrics) and decrease the pollution from the manufacturing of these products.
Here are 3 ways to reduce your clothing-related environmental "footprint":
1. Reduce your consumption. No more falling for those tricky ads saying you need a new outfit every weekend. Save your money for more fulfilling things like dinner with a friend or travelling. If you really need something new, look for environmentally conscious clothing companies. Some of our favourites include Patagonia, tonlé, Nicole Bridger and Inner Fire Apparel. A clothing swap is another great way to revive your wardrobe while reducing your clothing consumption.
2. Repair, mend, or tailor your clothes. There are tons of DIY instructions online to change up the style or fit of your clothing. Your neighbourhood tailor can also help you re-purpose your clothing.
3. Recycle! When it finally comes time to let a clothing item go, recycle it!
Find out how to recycle clothing in your area:
H&M has also initiated a garment collection program where you can drop off unwanted clothing and home textiles at any store, find out more HERE.
Though we commend H&M for it's involvement in waste management, their up and coming role in "sustainable" fashion is certainly a hot topic these days. We think this article, H&M's "sustainability" report hides the unsustainable reality of fast fashion, is a fair evaluation of the realities of any fast fashion company trying to embrace environmental "sustainability".