Textile waste: How bad is the situation and how can we solve it?
by Maite Cezario, our wonderful intern!
About 85% of textiles go to waste each year. To put this into perspective, that's enough to fill the Sydney Harbour every year! Talk about dire. Textile waste has only been increasing in recent years, thanks in large part to the emergence of fast fashion, over-supply and changes in consumption habits. The average shopper now has 52 seasons in a year, rather than the standard Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter - and this idea is reflected in huge growths in textile waste.
Between 2005-2010, textile waste increased by about 2 million tonnes per year in the United Kingdom. In comparison, in the United States every year about 26 billion pounds of textiles end up in landfills according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Normally when we want to get rid of unwanted clothes, we donate them. When the garment is not good enough to donate, it goes straight to the rubbish bin and then to the landfill.
Australians are the world’s second higher consumers of textiles and 3 out of 10 people admit to throwing out about 10 pieces in the past year. The growing amount of textile waste in the world and especially in Australia must be recognised and addressed.
Currently, there are ideas for solutions, such as the chemical separation of materials. This process separates products such as sheets, clothing, and towels into their individual raw materials. The recovered resources can either be reused in the textile industry or into other products such as plastic bottles.
This process is a great idea as it reduces the impact on the environment while also allowing the recovered materials in Australia to be available for use in Australian-manufactured products. Growing investments into solutions like these can further benefit and make a difference environmentally and economically for a country.
There are also things that you can do as an individual to help reduce your impact on textile waste - but stay tuned because we've got a whole 'nother blog post on that!
We hope this gave you a bit of insight into the current situation. We've developed a range of articles addressing the impacts of the fashion industry and what can be done, to get you thinking about our impact on the environment during Fashion Revolution week!
Sustainability, slow fashion and the circular economy are the cornerstones of what we do at The Social Outfit. You can learn more about our impact here, or shop the latest in beautiful, ethically-made fashion here.
We developed this post using the following articles:
McFall-Johnsen, Morgan. “The Fashion Industry Emits More Carbon than International Flights and Maritime Shipping Combined. Here Are the Biggest Ways It Impacts the Planet.” Business Insider Australia, Business Insider Australia, 17 Oct. 2019, www.businessinsider.com.au/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10?r=US&IR=T.
- Rosmarin, Remi. “Sustainability Sells: Why Consumers and Clothing Brands Alike Are Turning to Sustainability as a Guiding Light.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 14 Jan. 2020, www.businessinsider.com/sustainability-as-a-value-is-changing-how-consumers-shop.
- Ross, Graham. “Australia Recycles Paper and Plastics. So Why Does Clothing End up in Landfill? | Graham Ross.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 27 Aug. 2019, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/27/australia-recycles-paper-and-plastics-so-why-does-clothing-end-up-in-landfill.