The fashion trends are constantly changing as fast as a blink of an eye. With that, it’s taking a toll on our environment as 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up being dumped on landfills across the UK each year. That’s even before you add accessories and make-up products to the mix.
An outcry had erupted online in 2017, after Burberry had revealed they burned their excess stock, worth more than $50 million worth of clothes, perfumed and accessories. Our wasteful nature doesn’t really help the issue either, combining it with fast fashion, it’s crippling our planet. Wrap had conducted a study of the textiles industry, which revealed between 2012 and 2016, the UK carbon footprint had increased from 24 million tonnes to 26.2 million tonnes of C02.
With countless numbers of clothes heading to the landfill, and the nature of the fashion industry moving at such a rapid speed, are there any solutions for tackling the impact on the environment whilst at the same, keep the industry ticking over? Teaming up with waste management expert, Reconomy we investigate waste solutions for textiles.
Using food for fabrics
A report leaked by Tree Hugger suggested some recent processes could certainly help tackle the initial carbon footprint cause by textile production.Making clothes uses up a lot of resources, such a water, fuel, and chemical dyes. Circular Systems is offering a solution to that — fibres made from food scraps. In fact, the initiative would solve two issues at once, by making textile production less wasteful and combating the food waste problem.
Circular Systems operate technologies that use existing scraps of textiles and discarded clothing and create new fibres out of them. This means the company addresses both the environmental impact at the beginning of a textile cycle, with its creation, and at the end of its life, avoiding the landfill.
Coffee in clothing
A similar innovation had been shared by Bio Based World News that saw processing using coffee grounds to make fabrics. Singtex is the name of the company responsible for changing how we look at what our clothes could be made from. Like Circular Systems, they are looking to tackle two troubles head-on, but converting a backlog of waste from one sector (again, the food industry) and turning it into a useable item in another sector (the textiles industry).
Love Your Clothes website
Launched by WRAP, this project aims to help the textiles industry deal with their waste problem.This website offers customers a series of helpful advice points, such as:
- Buying clothes — tips on how to “buy smart”, with an emphasis on clothes that will last, hiring options, swapping stations, or buying second-hand.
- Care and Repair — this section gives some great lifehacks on how to look after your clothes to keep them living longer. It also advises on how to repair clothes to give them a new lease of life.
- Refashion and Upcycle — something of a lost art, it certainly needs to see a revival! Here, instead of buying new clothes, the website encourages people to look at their old clothes and find ways to alter or combine items to make new outfits. The best part of this is you end up with a totally unique item!
- Unwanted clothes — for clothes that don’t fit, that you’ve grown out of, or no longer need, sometimes upcycling isn’t an option. But that doesn’t mean you get to fling them away! Dispose of your clothes responsibly, with a range of different ways to sell, swap, or donate.
Introducing exchange programmes
Several retail outlets have begun running their own exchange programmes, that allow customers to make use of their local shops to drop unwanted clothes for recycling. Sometimes, customers can even get discounts for doing so.
Target and I:Collect are two companies, who’ve ran campaigns, allowing customers to receive discount of 20% of their jeans if they brought back their unwanted denim. . The denim was divided into two piles to be either reused or recycled.
Here in the UK, clothing retailer H&M offer recycling services too. With the promise to accept any brand in any condition, H&M notes that it was the first brand to do a full-scale clothing recycling program in-store. Customers can bring down their old, unwanted clothes in exchange for a H&M voucher. The service is also offered in their concept stores, at Monki and at & Other Stories. The old clothes are marked as rewear, reuse, or recycle.
When it comes to clothing waste, the world is in dire need of a waste solution. The fashion industry moves so quickly, and it’s leaving a trail of quickly-discarded clothing in its wake. Businesses need to ensure they have a responsible waste management system in place, such as those provided by Reconomy, to ensure less waste hits the landfill.