The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. It is responsible for climate change, carbon emission, and plastic pollution. Only in the US, an average citizen throws away 37kg of clothes every year, 85% of which is dumped into a landfill or burnt.
More than 60% of our clothing consists of synthetic materials or a mix of natural & synthetic. When worn or washed, clothes made out of synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic, release plastic microfibers. Every time we wash our synthetic clothes, an average of 9 million microfibers are released into the wastewater. Research has shown that during the first four to five washes, the most fibers are released, so new clothes pollute the environment with plastic more than used ones.
However, the environmental impact of clothing is enormous, not only at its end-of-life but also during manufacturing and use. The price of a clothing item never includes its environmental and social cost, and that’s why we are joining Oxfam in their campaign Second Hand September.
From fast fashion to slow fashion
In 2014, consumers around the world bought on average 60% more clothing than they did in 2000 but kept it for half as long. We have reached a point where we are treating our clothing like single-use plastics, throwing it away after short use.
Social pressure, fashion trends, and instant gratification are some of the reasons why people toss their clothes after just one or two wears. Fear of being seen with the same dress twice on social media or the rewarding feeling after buying a new clothing item might bring short-term satisfaction for our self-esteem, but long-term devastating consequences for the environment and our own health.
However, not everything is bad news! The second-hand apparel market is predicted to grow nearly 1.5 times the size of fast fashion by 2028 and expected to double its worth in the next three years. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the measures to contain it, the global fast fashion market has been seriously affected and it is not expected to recover until 2023. This offers an opportunity for fashion retailers to reinvent and change their business model, hopefully towards a more sustainable and circular one.
One of the main actors in the change of mentality towards slow fashion is Generation Z, leaning towards and spurring sustainable fashion. Multiple platforms and apps are emerging as a consequence of this change of mentality, where consumers can sell the clothes they no longer want from the palm of their hand.
What to do during Second-hand September?
We dare you to, at least throughout this month, not buy any new clothing. Go for second-hand clothing!
- Check out thrift stores in your area or organize a clothing swap with your friends.
- Reorganize your wardrobe. Go through the clothes you own and, as Marie Kondo would say, ask yourself “does this bring me joy?”. Keep only the clothes that give you pride and make you feel good when wearing them!
- Consider donating old clothing. If you donate your old clothing, you may prevent other people from buying a new one or help people who might need them. We know that if you donate your old clothes, other people will use and wash them, which will probably release more microfibers. But new clothes release more microfibers than old ones, so by donating them, you help fight the fast-fashion craze.
- Repair your clothes instead of ditching them! Is it unrepairable? Then make sure you bring them to a recycling initiative for textiles in your area. Some projects make sure that old clothing is recycled into new material for new clothing.
- Change your washing habits. In general, try to wash less and, when you do, wash at low temperature, use washing liquid instead of powder, use fabric softener, avoid long washings, and don’t use a tumble dryer. Check out more tips on our website.
- Get a washing machine filter for your washing machine: stopping the fibers already in your household, before they make their way to the ocean by adding a PlanetCare Microfiber Filter to your washing machine. This filter stops (proven!) 90% of the synthetic fibers.