Reportedly it’s topped only by oil, the fashion industry is contributing to major environmental destruction. That’s mainly because consumers insist on buying so many clothes at such cheap prices.
Water is a significant part of the problem. Textile manufacturing uses huge amounts of water. So much of which gets flushed into waterways. All laden with contaminants such as bleaches, acids, inks and dyes. Horrifyingly, farmers in parts of China and India are reportedly predicting fashion’s next biggest hues by the color of rivers tainted by textile industry runoff. (Look out for the 2016 documentary River Blue.) Fast fashion has terrible impacts on people, too, with workers in developing nations often paid a pittance to labourin unsafe conditions.
Alternatives do exist. The solution lies in buying less as well as choosing to buy ethical clothing. All that But how to tell good brands from bad? Our guide to ethical fashion navigates the conundrum.
Buy clothes made locally by ethical labels
Step one is choosing brands that consider the planet and their workers. The desire to wear cheap new looks daily has led to offshore manufacturing in often deplorable circumstances.
That’s because buying local, well-made pieces can sidestep all that. Great local ethical designers include Melbourne’s Vege Threads, Brisbane’s Alice Nightingale, and Sinerji Organic Clothing on the Sunshine Coast. Stay abreast of emerging ethical labels via online marketplaces such as Well Made Clothes or Sustainable Fashion, through actual markets such as Finders Keepers, or by reading Brisbane-based sustainable style magazine Peppermint.
Also, technology can help to make smarter choices. The free Good On You app rates mainstream brands based on publicly available info, while Baptist World Aid Australia’s annual Ethical Fashion Report grades companies on labor rights. As well as the possibility of exploitation in their supply chain. Choose those at the top of the list, such as the Etiko and Jinta Sport, which have received top A+ ratings every year since the Ethical Fashion Report’s 2013 inception. Also keep an eye out for brands with Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation.
Before and after the catwalk, the fashion industry is inherently ugly.
Textiles account for 10% of global carbon emissions. The industry is the world’s second-biggest industrial polluter, behind oil. In Australia, an estimated 3m tonnes of textiles goes into landfill each year.
In addition, the ability to recycle clothing is, say industry veterans Adrian Jones and Graham Ross, a “holy grail”. He means for the industry and the planet. Because that will help close the loop. All between resource-intensive fabric production and fast growing piles of textile waste.
Jones and Ross have pioneered and trademarked – with input from the CSIRO and the Queensland University of Technology – a small-scale and environmentally friendly process that takes both recycled and new fabrics to reduce the total raw components.
The immediate benefit of recycling clothing is to divert increasing amounts of waste from landfill. Trends such as fast fashion and minimalism have the unintended consequences of increasing fabric waste. In Australia, 75% of people throw textiles away each year, a 2017 YouGov survey found; 30% tossed out more than 10 garments.
Long-term, recycling clothing can reduce the industry’s reliance on resource-intensive production methods. All used to make new fabrics. Cotton requires vast quantities of water. Polyester is made from petroleum and takes up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
But while recycling clothing is not itself new, studies show many existing large-scale processes provide negligible benefits and can be as environmentally harmful as the production of raw fabrics. It also remains uncommon.
There’s no textile or recycling clothing industry in the UK. Ross says. “We’ve got a lot of waste going into landfill and trying to fill that gap. The fashion industry is starting to use more sustainable materials and recycled polyester is on a fast uptake.”
The process pioneered by their company,BlockTexx, is “about the size of a craft brewery” and testing has show it to be efficient and sustainable. The company is in the process of seeking to establish its first facility in south-east Queensland, recycling about 10,000 tonnes a year.
As Trash is for Tossers reported: In the USA, “Recycling” clothing doesn’t necessarily mean only sending it to get shredded up and turned into something new. Recycling clothing can simply mean passing items on to be used and loved by someone else.
If you’ve got items in great condition, and want to make a little extra cash, take them to a local consignment shop or thrift store. As well as try a trusted online reseller like Poshmark</u, thredUP.
There are tons of amazing sustainable resources and organizations. All that will take your too-far-gone clothing. As well as accessories and textile items, and repurpose them for other uses. Uses like making home insulation, pillow stuffing, car seat stuffing. I mean even “new” fabric made from recycled fibers.
Here are some great recycling clothing programs and resources to help you recycle anything from socks, to athletic shoes, to bras, old fleeces and everything in-between:
The Bra Recyclers: An organization that will find a way to recycle, reuse or repurpose bras. You can find a drop-off station or mail old bras directly to them.
Council for Textile Recycling: Find clothing donation drop-offs and textile recycling resources all across the US. Keep in mind the donation suggestions might not recycle “unwearable” textiles. I recommend calling the individual recommended locations before making a drop-off.
GemText: Free textile recycling based in the Pacific Northwest.
Soles 4 Souls: A national shoe recycling program.
Green Tree: Free textile recycling drop-offs located at specific NYC farmers’ markets.
Wearable Collections: NYC-based clothing recycling pick up service.
Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles: An online platform that will help you find the nearest textile recycling outlets near you.
H&M, Don’t Let Fashion Go To Waste</u€–You can drop off your textiles from any brand, in any condition, at any H&M store globally and they’ll recycle it for you. I recommend calling ahead though to your local H&M before to double check and make sure store employees know you’re coming by.
Donation Town: A site that helps you find a local clothing donation pick-up service in your area.
Nike, Reuse-A-Shoe: Nike collects old athletic shoes from any brand that they grind up and use to create courts, fields, tracks and playgrounds.
Patagonia, Common Threads– Bring back your unwanted Patagonia clothing and accessories to any Patagonia store and they’ll recycle it and give you store credit!
The North Face, Clothes the Loop– Recycling clothing and shoes from any brand at North Face stores.
Finally, there are probably hundreds more Not mentioned.Yet hopefully through one of these resources, you’ll be able to find a way to make sure none of your textiles ever end up in a landfill again! Yuppers!!!!