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Organic, bio, recycled... these are words you often hear when shopping for clothes. There are now fast fashion shops where you can take back your used clothes for recycling. But there is a suspicion that these companies are really doing something for the environment, or is it just a good-sounding advertising ploy to get us to buy more clothes. Meanwhile, the real problem is that we continue to buy more and more 'unnecessary' clothes.
Some alarming figures. For example, twice as many shoes and T-shirts are produced worldwide, 3/4 of which end up in the trash within a few years.
We - the consumers - want to buy clothes cheaper and cheaper, and the manufacturers are doing their best to meet our needs and cut prices as much as they can. The price of clothing has been halved on average, but the only way they have managed to do this is by making most of their clothes from non-degradable synthetic materials. Obviously, because it's the cheapest...polyester now accounts for half of all raw materials.
Most companies do not really know or care about the manufacturing conditions under which their clothes are made. Today, carbon dioxide emissions from the clothing industry account for 4-10% of total industrial emissions.
Nowadays, a fast fashion company launches several collections every season (some launch 20-25 a year!), but most of them cannot be sold in that season, only at sales. 40% of fast fashion clothes are sold on sale! This shortens the life of the clothes, and clothes bought on the cheap are worn for only a short time and then disposed of one way or another.
What are these companies actually doing to make a difference? Not much, really. Despite all the impressive initiatives, only 1% of clothes are recycled.
As most of the industry is not going to change these trends any time soon, we need to try to be more conscious of how we live and what we buy.
Obviously, buying more consciously means a higher price, but it's still a good choice, as fewer clothes can mean more clothes in the end, as they can usually be worn in many different ways.
Source: Harvard Business Review, The Myth of sustainable Fashion, 2022