Every day, we're getting smacked in the face with new designs, color pallets and fashion trends. But the underlying issue that these quick profit companies don't talk about are the environmental consequences of textile waste.
As consumers, it's crucial to understand the far-reaching impact of our apparel consuming choices. We're diving into the environmental, social, and economic repercussions of textile waste and providing insight on how we can collectively work towards a more sustainable future.
Environmental Toll of Textile Waste:
Fast fashion, characterized by rapid production and quick turnover of clothing items, leads to massive amounts of discarded garments... and unfortunately, a lot of outdoor companies buy into these trends (hello crop tops, biker shorts, joggers, capris, water bottles (I'm looking at you Stanley cup)). The decomposition of synthetic fabrics releases harmful chemicals into the soil and water, contributing to pollution and disrupting ecosystems.
Landfills Overflowing with Textiles:
One of the most tangible impacts of textile waste is the burden it places on landfills. Stats show that many of these "trendy pieces" are worn only seven to ten times before being tossed. The synthetic fibers of these items, commonly found in outdoor technical fabrics items, can take centuries to decompose, clogging up valuable landfill space. The sheer volume of discarded clothing exacerbates the issue...of the 100 billion garments produced each year, 92 million tons end up in landfills. That is equivalent to one garbage truck full of clothing waste PER SECOND.
Social and Economic Ramifications:
Textile waste doesn't only harm the environment; it also has social and economic consequences. The fast fashion industry often relies on low-cost labor in developing countries, where workers face poor working conditions and meager wages. As the demand for cheap, disposable clothing continues, these workers bear the brunt of a system that prioritizes profit over ethical practices.
Other unethical practices include the life cycle of "returns". Most items returned to retailers from consumers end up in landfill. It is more costly for the company to put these items back in circulation than to get rid of them.
Water and Energy Consumption of the Textile Industry:
The production of textiles demands significant amounts of water and energy. From growing cotton to the manufacturing processes, water scarcity and energy consumption are serious concerns. By extending the life of our clothing and embracing sustainable fashion practices, we can collectively reduce the strain on these precious resources. The amount of water needed to make just one t-shirt, which would be enough for one person to drink for 900 days.
The Power of Sustainable Fashion Choices:
As consumers, we hold the power to drive change. Opting for quality over quantity, supporting eco-friendly brands, and embracing second-hand shopping from local stores like Gear Hut are effective ways to combat textile waste. By choosing sustainable materials, shopping used and supporting brands with quality practices, we can encourage the industry to prioritize environmental and ethical considerations.
Recycling and Upcycling Initiatives:
Promoting textile recycling and reuse is essential for mitigating the impact of textile waste. Many organizations and brands are working towards creating a circular fashion economy, where garments are recycled, repurposed, or transformed into new products, reducing the need for virgin materials. We love brands like Patagonia, Osprey, Mountain Hardwear, Smartwool and Darn Tough. Companies like these will repair your products for life or support product buy back to recycle materials.
Utilizing local consignment shops like Gear Hut are a GREAT way to ensure your products are hitting the shelf in contrast to blind "donation drops" at thrift stores. According to recent stats, only about 12% of donated clothing makes it to racks.
The impact of textile waste on our planet is undeniable, but with informed choices and collective action, we can reshape the future of fashion. By supporting sustainable practices, embracing circular economy initiatives, and raising awareness about the consequences of textile waste, we can stitch together a more environmentally conscious and socially responsible fashion industry. Let's make every thread count in building a sustainable future.
Data from Earth.Org Blog post written with the assistance of ChatGPT because as a small business, we'll take all the free help we can use.