Did you know that 90% of manufactured clothes are thrown out before a whole year of use? No?!
Would you like to find out what is actually happening? What we are saying is that every resource used in the confection of manufactured clothing such as energy, water and raw materials are being equally put to waste!
But it shouldn’t be so, or better, it doesn’t have to be so! Do you agree?
Just so that you can picture the situation, clothing confection industries dispose of over 700 tons of CO² on the atmosphere every year.
I have a feeling that now you’re probably starting to realize the amount of damage it’s being caused to the Environment, right?
Not quite there yet? Fine. If the clothing industries were a country, in terms of CO² disposal, it would occupy the sixth position on the rank of countries aggravating the Greenhouse Effect!
Considering that by the year 2050 millions of peoples will be added to the middle class, it means that it will necessary three times more resources to attend to their demands. Have you thought about it?
With a scenario like this, it’s essential that the fashion industry go to the direction of sustainable production, changing its current patterns and aiming to better and cleaner technologies.
Many brands and a large share of the fashion industry today use synthetic fibres instead of natural ones, which doubles the emission of Greenhouse Effect gases without even considering the absurd liberation of Carbone on the atmosphere related to the transportation of the textile materials.
In the 1960’s, in the USA, 98% of all clothes were manufactured in American grounds, nowadays only 2% of all commercialized clothing in the country is produced by American enterprises.
Almost 90% or more of all clothes commercialized in the USA comes from China, transported by sea in containers. But the most incredible fact is that these companies don’t spend a single penny for environmental damage. That’s right, it’s ZERO COST for them, but not for the environment!
The aftermath of this way of consumption is interesting for the international market and its consumers, since it means cheaper clothes and when we pay less, we consume more. The tendency that comes from that logic is a lack of awareness of what’s happening behind the curtains, since we’re enjoying the advantages of that, right?
A person today buys around 60% more clothes than on the year 2000 and, therefore, end up disposing of clothes in good condition twice as fast as what was done in the past.
The result of this rampant consumption is garbage trucks full of used clothes being put away every second around the globe in sanitary landfills. Millions of clothes still in good condition and, only to aggravate the situation, only 1% of this material is recycled.
Sad, isn’t it?
Levi’s is using old or unsold jeans as isolating material for houses, a very common artefact in American houses, specially where the cold is very severe and the use of isolation in the walls is mandatory to keep the inside environment protected from the external temperatures.
Some start-ups are transforming organic trash like fruit peels from bananas, oranges and some leaves as raw material for the confection of clothes, therefore creating a generation of sustainably produced clothing.
Other companies are reusing second-hand clothing and disposed material from other industries to produce sustainable fabrics. That’s already happening in the USA, avoiding waste and reducing the carbon emission with transportation, like when they used to transport clothes from China.
This new technique of producing fabric is growing a lot already. There’s an expressive increase of industry adopting this way of working. But the biggest and best example of all is the clothing industry called Patagonia, which is already known for refurbishing old clothed sold to their clients, an unprecedented method in the world. The brand has always had this concern: to produce clothes that could be used forever. Its production produces the minimum amount of CO² possible and its clothes are timeless, they don’t go out of fashion, as people tend to say.
Patagonia stands behind this new concept of conscient consumption, but it has outgrown itself by creating an advertising campaign in which it encourages its clients to stop buying new unnecessary items. And so it was born the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, that aims to find solutions for the fashion industry, garbage and waste and disposal of clothes.
The initiative worked so well that 49 companies these days are working together in the project, such as Asics, Aritzia, C&A, Brooks, Columbia, etc. Together, these companies represent almost 33% of all companies who produce and sell clothes in the world.
Knowing these good and bad examples, it falls down to us the responsibility to show clothing industries that they must find a new way to produce their clothes, a new green way of being.
I hope that you, reader, after reading this text, also change your way of dealing with disposal of your old and new clothes, as well as put some extra thought on your next shopping trip. Do you really need to buy another piece of clothing?
Dr. Carlos Avelino
Lawyer | Coach | Socio-environmental Auditor and Consultant