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HOW ARE CLOTHES BEING DISPOSED?

Imagine a rubbish truck loaded with clothes. Every second the equivalent of this, is buried or burnt in a landfill. Waste is very much existent in every part of the clothing industry. This is, as a result of overproduction, consumption and no real knowledge on how to discard of products which have reach the end of its life cycle.


Many people have now been made aware of the impacts which waste within the clothing industry has. However, there are still a handful of people who act as the key driver to this phenomenon. What would happen if everyone knew the consequences of waste within the fashion industry? Would fast fashion still be a thing? Can garments be made sustainably and still have the same effect? Do consumers consider how, where and with what materials their clothing is made from?


How?

One of the main sources to wastage having an impact on our environment is plastic. Plastic within the textiles industry has reached an estimate of 60% of clothing and 70% of household textiles being made from synthetic fibres. This means it is made from plastic along with harmful chemicals as opposed to just being made from natural fibres. The act of having a plastic item doesn't make it bad for our planet, but the way that it is being discarded of once it is no longer needed, is the real killer. This is equivalent to throwing a plastic bottle into the ocean, resulting in the death of 1 million marine animals every year. Imagine a nice thick jumper that you just purchased, to keep you warm during the winter. This jumper is made from synthetic fibres. Once ready to be thrown away, not only would this jumper release microplastics into the environment but also toxic chemicals from their production. It will either be buried or burnt. This in mind, it takes 20-200 years for a synthetic jumper to decompose. Now, can you imagine the build-up of unwanted textiles just after 1 year?


In 2015, 10 million tons of textiles was sent to landfills in America. That's the equivalent to the weight of 5 million cars. Now you might say that you give your unwanted clothes away to people who need it, or you recycle it. But by taking it to recycling bins, this doesn't necessarily mean that they're going where you think they are. Less than 1% of used clothes is getting recycled into new clothes. These unwanted clothing items are being sold to less privileged countries and being sold for cheap to the people. It sounds good in theory, but poorer countries are getting flooded. In 2015, East African countries like Kenya tried to ban second-hand clothes from their markets. They said that the influx of cheap clothes was destroying their local textile industry. Second hand clothing is a multi-million-dollar industry in the US, and in 2018 the Trump administration threatened the East African nations with tariffs if they stopped taking our used clothes, and most of them backed down as a result.

Large amounts of clothes taken to landfills to dispose of the effects of fast fashion

In 2002, after carrying out research, it was noted that clothing was cheaper and a much faster turn over in the fashion seasons and trends. There was a survey in the UK for women and it was said that on average, they would use an item of clothing, an average of seven times. This is considered a low usage of clothing. The main goal is to increase the number of times each piece of clothing is used. By separating the clothes into as many categories as possible, this allows for them to get the most value out of it as possible. Many products are shipping to Africa, where local crafts people add value to the items. The markets have hundreds of tailors who are sewing, taking in clothing, fixing, putting on buttons, doing that kind of repair work. The overall concept which makes recycling clothes a positive outcome is turning these unwanted clothes into new materials. The cycle of using, recycling and turning the existing clothes into new ones cuts down significantly on the need to produce new fabrics. There are organisations today that can create fibres and yarns that look like cotton and polyester but perform like something completely different, made entirely out of waste. ‘Circular Fashion’ is where our focus should lie and be evolved around. Over production with not as much consumption of these garments is what’s ultimately resulting in the large amounts of waste which we then discard of impulsively. The consumers have no real idea on the impact of fast fashion and the carelessly throwing away unwanted garments which is one of the key drivers to the problem in the first place. Starting this conversation and making people more aware on how to go about discarding and buying from the right brands which are eco conscious and considerate of quality in order to prolong the life span of these clothes are important.


The real root of the problem is mass consumption and mass production. Our take, waste model has to change into a circular one, they making low quality clothing that we wear once or twice which then falls apart, and then the consumer is buying it at such a low price that they don't really value it, and then they wear it once or twice and then it goes into the landfill.


This is where sustainable brands come in. These brands use recycled fabrics to make their clothes which proves that they take into consideration our planet. Instead of using existing fabrics which are bad one their life cycle is up or fabrics which require a lot of water consumption in order to make it in the first place, these recycled fabrics use discarded rubbish which is no longer needed and turn it into a new product. Whilst also being eco conscious, these sustainable brands pride themselves by being more considerate about the quality of their garments in order to prolong its life span so that the amount of clothes that are going into landfills is reduced by a significant amount. Ama Thea The Label is a brand prideful in this philosophy.


Fast fashion is another huge concern when it comes to our planet. So called 'Fast Fashion' allows consumers to buy more, but they're wearing these garments less often and disposing of them at an unprecedented rate. Also known as 'Throwaway Fashion', it's the fastest growing category of waste every year. At the rate that clothes are being made and sold for cheap, increases the risk of clothes being dumped into landfills because of the inundated amount of pilled up unwanted garments. Prioritising slow fashion and quality made garments is the way forward. These clothes will last way longer than cheaper low quality clothes and it'll just look better. The value for more expensive yet higher quality clothed would also be much greater. Forever 21 filed bankruptcy as they could accommodate to Gen Z consumers. 94% of 13-21 year olds have said that they'd rather support brands that take action into supporting our environment.


To sum up, think more about the garments and their brand that you buy and support. By making sustainable fashion into more than just a trend can do more of a different than you are aware of.


Shop sustainable clothing brand, Ama Thea The Label here

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