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Buying less or shredding more

September 7, 2016

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With shortened seasons, the fashion industry is all the time trying to seduce us into buying new garments. But while millions of dollars are being poured into media convincing us falling quality of clothes is not bad the environment, the accelerated pace of fashion is harmful.

Speeding up trends come with a hefty price. It is estimated the amount of discarded garments in the West doubled over the last two decades. Since we do not like the idea of buying and, sometimes even without wearing, throwing away the items, the fast fashion companies came up with the idea of take-back programmes. It should be a win-win solution. Together with clothes we hand over the guilt feeling and they get us in the store. There is, however, a growing problem with this trade off, namely, less than one percent of fibers are actually being used in new products. The usual suspects, like H&M or Zara, continue selling clothes with low resale value, so the vast majority of worn-out garments end up in dumpsters.

High-end fashion retailers now want to jump on the environmental wagon, as well. Companies such as Adidas, Gucci or Stella McCartney also want to be portrayed as responsible manufacturers, and are trying to sell their concept of closed-loop sourcing. Despite their clothes being made of more expensive, hence better quality materials, promoting the idea that the fabrics in their products will one day be sourced from the old ones, is similarly unrealistic.

The sad fact is, with the available technology, even when using the best materials, it is not possible to reuse fibers. Recycled threads are of such a poor quality, not more than 20% could be added to new products. But it gets even worse. During the processing, textiles had been bleached, dyed and soaked in all kinds of hazardous chemicals, so even the most natural fibers cannot simply be composted. Currently the only remaining way of getting rid of unwanted fashion is to shred and, at best, make insulation out of it. Yet, for the environmentally conscious the mantra remains the same, buy less and better quality.

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From → Hic Salta

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