What happens when it’s fast, disposable and cheap?
When it comes to clothes, maybe you should ask: what is your waste size?
You know you have clothes sitting in your closet: you’re wearing this shirt for less than $10, because it looks cool, or you only wear a dress once, and then it’s out of date.
Fashion week is moving faster than ever. A December Quartz article reveals how fashion brands such as Zara, Gap and Adidas are introducing new styles more frequently, a trend many in the industry call “fast fashion”. Mass-produced clothing has also become more affordable, attracting consumers to buy more.
“In the last four seasons, it could be as high as 11 or 15 or more,” said tasha lewis, a professor of fiber science and clothing design at Cornell university.
According to CIT, a financial holding company, top fast fashion retailers have grown by 9.7 per cent a year over the past five years, outpacing the 6.8 per cent growth rate of traditional clothing companies.
Fashion is big business. Estimates vary, but one report says the global industry is $1.2 trillion, spending more than $250 billion in the United States alone. In 2014, the average family spent an average of $1,786 on clothing and related services.
More styles mean more purchases – which can lead to more waste. Journalist Elizabeth klein wrote in her book that cheap fashion is shockingly high cost: dressing in a disposable fashion is damaging the environment and the economy. We tend to deal with cheaper, mass-produced fashion, not more expensive fashion.
“We don’t necessarily have the ability to deal with this,” lewis said. “The pace of disposal is not keeping up with all the problems we have, and that’s the problem.”
According to the environmental protection agency, 15.1 million tons of textile waste were produced in 2013, of which 12.8 million tons were abandoned.
One way for developed countries to get rid of excessive clothing is to donate it to developing countries. According to the United Nations, the United States is the largest exporter of old clothing, while the main importers of old clothing are India, Russia and Pakistan.
But, as a strong dollar in Asian cheap clothing and availability, some people worry that second-hand clothing export demand will decline – thus forcing the developed countries to seek new ways of treatment after consumption of textile wastes.
Fast fashion and disposable culture also hurt the sorting companies that export used clothing.
Adam Baruchowitz, founder of New York City’s Wearable Collections, collects used clothing and sells it to a sorting company. The companies then classified their clothing, separating those that would be made into other low-grade fibre products and those that would be exported.
‘the most valuable part of the sorting business is selling second-hand clothing that can be reused,’ says Mr. Baruhorwitz. But if there is a problem with quality, more of the collection may have to go to the shredder rather than the second-hand clothes market.
“It’s very harmful to the environment,” he said. “this kind of fast fashion culture is very harmful, and it also affects the secondary market, because these clothes are not used for a long time.” “I can’t say for sure, but second-hand H&M is likely to be less than a better quality of clothing requirements, I get all these things from fast fashion, and I heard that it will hurt them” from customers.
Does the retailer’s recycling program encourage consumption?
Some clothing retailers have announced plans to collect customers’ clothing for recycling, selling or reproducing garments. For example, H&M has allowed customers to carry unwanted garments in 2013 – converting them into recycled textile fibres for new products – and the company’s goal is to “get part clothes into landfill”. Patagonia also recycles and sells used Patagonia products in its stores.
It involves the concept of extension of producer responsibility, which means that the manufacturer must consider the afterlife of the product.
But does it actually encourage more consumerism? For many stores, customers can get store credit and coupons to send old clothes.
“If you take it back to the store, you will see something new, you will give me a discount, I have a purchase opportunity that I might not have before, because you sent me back to your store. “Very smart in business,” lewis said.
However, this concept could encourage different ways of thinking: if manufacturers must consider how to make full use of the product after product is worn, so may prompt they begin to design the product, can easily open it, better quality, or can be biodegradable, for example.
H&M introduced new clothing made from recycled textile fibres two years ago.
Work at the grassroots level strikes fast fashion.
A year ago, some users started uploading YouTube video, which they swapped clothes with friends. Either way, they show how they make new styles from their old clothes.
“Today is the day of the fashion revolution, and I decided to take part in the campaign by making ‘Haulternative’ video,” said CutiePieMarza, a uk-based YouTuber, in her video. She is exchanging clothes with YouTuber grav3yardgirl in Texas.
Grav3yardgirl from Youtuber, Texas, posted her video, an exchange of clothes with Youtuber CutiePieMarza in the UK, as part of the “haulternative” movement.
“It’s part of the job, part exchange… She asked me a month ago if I could be part of this awesome project, “said grav3yardgirl in her video. “I think it’s mainly what’s happening in the UK.”
“Haulternative” is an alternative to traditional “long distance” video, and users can post their latest video on video.
It’s part of a campaign to make people aware of the origins of our clothing — and the waste of consumer habits.
“This is another option, it focuses on how people do different jobs, how people in the case of don’t need to buy new clothes to refresh your closet,” co-founder movement Carry Somers says. “It encourages people to be more conscious about shopping.”
Instead of constantly buying new clothes, the campaign suggests buying old clothes or changing clothes from antique stores. The fashion revolution week will be held on April 18-24, and participants will be encouraged to upload their “haulternative” video this year.
Some companies are trying new ideas. Rent, for example, is for rental of branded clothing for monthly rental payments to customers. Those who care about waste accumulation jumped on to the concept of the opposite: instead of buying cheap clothes, than the purchase price is a bit expensive clothes, and quality is good, may extend your life. Tom Cridland’s 30 year sweatshirt is an example.
San Francisco was aware of the problem in 2002 – and promised to achieve zero waste by 2020 by encouraging recycled clothing, shoes and sheets.
“I think for clothes, because we’re a consumer culture, it’s hard to say I don’t buy anything,” Mr. Lewis said. “We may slow down our purchases.”