Written by Katrina Naish - A Fitting Connection
In 2017 The series War on Waste reported that every hour Australians dumb 36 tonnes of fabric waste every 1 hour. Which adds up to over 315,000 tonnes every year.
However, The Australasian Circular Textile Association (ACTA) report that figures where widely underestimated and our bad habits have increased. In fact, the figures are closer to 15 tonnes of textile waste every ten minutes (90 tonnes every 1hr). Which adds up to almost 800,000 tonnes, or 31 kilograms per person, every year.
Did you know that on average we are buying 60% more clothing than we did 15 years ago? Apart from perhaps having more disposable income, our lives have not changed that dramatically to suggest that we could possibly need and wear more clothing. And to make it worse we are keeping our clothing half as long. Many of our grandparents would have been lucky to have 10 different outfits. And whatever clothing they did have they would have worn it thin and then mended it or repurposed it.
One in 6 people report they bin 3 garments worn only once.
While Australia has a very small clothing production industry, we haven’t seemed to let that curb our shopping habits. Because Australia is the highest consumer of textiles per capita than anywhere else in the world outside of the US.
Should we mention the problems that our shopping habits have on the 3rd world countries like Ghana? Imagine 20 meter high mountains of landfill with it being estimated 60% of that is textile waste.
Landfill in Kpone, Ghana. Estimated 60% is textile waste. Credit: The OR Foundation
On top of all this, fashion production is responsible for 10% of the worlds carbon footprint.
How can we be passionate about fashion?
How can we be passionate about fashion when there is so much of it and the quality doesn’t withstand a reasonable life span. The answer is simple we become passionate about the right clothing and supporting the brands and businesses that are doing the best they can. Because many of us clothing is more than covering up and staying warm. It’s a way we express ourselves and make ourselves feel good.
For those of us that LOVE fashion, love to shop, love a new item and how it makes us feel, it’s so hard not to be an average Australian that only wears 40% of their clothing. But it doesn’t mean you have to go without it just means you need to be smarter and more purposeful.
6 Steps to maintain your passion and reduce your impact
While these figures are huge, we just need to concentrate on our own wardrobe. The aim here is to ensure the items your wardrobe all have a purpose and you’re no longer contributing to the 31kg heading to landfill each year.
1. Sort and Reduce
Ensure the items in your wardrobe are wearable. Those items that are not, sort them
2. No more impulsive buys - Start shopping more purposefully.
When you’re creating an outfit at home, start a list of those items you’re missing to complete an outfit or helps you create multiple outfits. Then when you go shopping ensure you stick to the list.
3. Second-hand shopping
There are some great op-shops out there but these days there are also great platforms and marketplaces such as Populace Threads making shopping second-hand easier. When buying second-hand ensure that you look for quality fabrics.
4. Do you research
When buying new items, be sure to purchase clothes from labels that are working hard to make a difference. There are several platforms and apps popping up such as Ekko World that help you find ethical fashion brands.
5. Don’t over wash
Washing wears, you’re clothing out just as much as wearing them. So, ensure your only washing your items when you need to. If you can’t see or smell the dirt, it’s safe to say the clothing doesn’t need washing. Here are our suggestions on how many times can you wear before you wash. And remember to wash in cold water as it’s better for the environment and you’re clothing.
- Dresses: 1-3 wears & spot clean if possible
- Jeans: 3-4 wears & spot clean when needed
- Tops: 2-3 wears & spot clean if possible
- Leggings: After each wear depending on activity level
6. Special occasion outfits
Buying is out of fashion and rent or borrowing is in
Putting into practice these 6 steps will ensure that you’re no longer contributing to the epic textile waste. Instead, you will be extending the life of clothing, which if you can extend the life by 9months you would reduce the carbon waste and water footprint by 20-30%
We highly recommend watching or reading Foreign Correspondent: Dead White Man’s Clothes
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