This blog post comes in light of a recent report which calls for a 1p tax on each new garment produced to help tackle the crazy amount of clothes that we buy - the production of which is highly sustainable and once used most of which end up in landfill.
The fast fashion movement in the UK sees over 300k tonnes of clothes going to landfill, 80% of which will be incinerated and 20% going to landfill sites. Lots of clothing is made of polyester and other plastic based materials so will never biodegrade. It is also difficult for even natural fibres to biodegrade properly in landfill sites because they aren't exposed to enough oxygen.
A 1p tax, put on the producers and retailers (rather than the customer) could raise over £35m a year to improve awareness of the issues, to promote making better clothes, collection systems and proper sorting facilities. All these initiatives exist currently but could really do with an injection of capital and government support to push them forward. The report also stated that companies that are already doing these things such as using sustainable materials, offering clothing repairs and reducing the carbon footprint of their products should be rewards. Reforming the way we incentivise progress in this sector should be at the forefront of any initiative.
“Fashion shouldn’t cost the earth. Our insatiable appetite for clothes comes with a huge social and environmental price tag: carbon emissions, water use, chemical and plastic pollution are all destroying our environment.”
Mary Creagh, MP and Environmental Audit Committee Chair
A recent report by the Environmental Audit Committee found that six UK fashion retailers were significantly failing to reduce their environmental impact. ASOS and Marks and Spencer were some of the most engaged with sustainability (yay - we love ASOS), with brands like Boohoo and Missguided falling to the bottom of the pack. Could this be down to cost? BooHoo and Missguided as certainly at the cheaper end of things.
In the UK we buy more clothes per person than any other country in Europe. ‘Fast fashion’ means we over consume and under use clothes. As a result, we get rid of over a million tonnes of clothes, with £140m worth going to landfill, every year.
So how about finding out about a local clothes swap initiative in your area...
..Go to jumble sales and rummage through until you find an absolute gem (very satisfying) - or if you don't want to do the hard work..
Visit a thrift/vintage store - they'll have done the hard work for you!
Repair your clothes - good clothes should last, and really sewing a button on or patching up a tear can be really easy.
Adjust clothes if they're not perfect - find a local tailor or learn yourself! If you love and cherish an item, don't be quick to throw it away before checking if it's easy to adjust.
Support local designers who make clothes! Get one of pieces or even bespoke garments. They could do with the support rather than giving your hard earned cash to the big dogs like ASOS.
Support local charity shops - always take your clothes and fabrics to charity shops. Even if they don't put your garms out on the shelves they'll definitely be able to sell them to the rag man (yes, I know that sounds dickensian but there is such thing as a Rag Man)
Check out Depot - a really cool second hand selling site! lots of vintage gear and rare items... but also cheap! if you've got lots of clothes to sell this is a good place to start.