To Make Our Wardrobes Sustainable, We Must Cut How Many New Clothes We Buy by 75% – PART 1

Fast fashion is being replaced by ultra-fast fashion, and many sustainability efforts do little to confront the sector’s consumption.

If things don’t change fast, the fashion industry could use a quarter of the world’s remaining global carbon budget to keep warming under 2C by 2050 and use 35% more land to produce fibers by 2030.

While this seems incredible, it’s not. Over the past 15 years, clothing production has doubled while the length of time we actually wear these clothes has fallen by nearly 40%. In the EU, falling prices have seen people buying more clothing than ever before while spending less money in the process.

This is not sustainable. Something has to give. In the recent report, the idea of a well-being wardrobe is proposed, a new way forward for fashion in which we favor human and environmental wellbeing over the ever-growing consumption of throwaway fast fashion.

What would that look like? It would mean each of us cutting how many new clothes we buy by as much as 75%, buying clothes designed to last, and recycling clothes at the end of their lifetime.

For the fashion sector, it would mean tackling low incomes for the people who make the clothes, as well as support measures for workers who could lose jobs during a transition to a more sustainable industry.

People walk past sales signs in a retail store in Sydney, Australia

If things don’t change fast, the fashion industry could use a quarter of the world’s remaining global carbon budget to keep warming under 2C by 2050 and use 35% more land to produce fibres by 2030.

Sustainability Efforts by the Industry are Simply Not Enough

Fashion is accelerating. Fast fashion is being replaced by ultra-fast fashion, releasing unprecedented volumes of new clothes into the market.

Since the start of the year, fast-fashion giants H&M and Zara have launched about 11,000 new styles combined.

Over the same time, ultra-fast fashion brand Shein has released a staggering 314,877 styles. Shein is the most popular shopping app in Australia. As you’d expect, this acceleration is producing a tremendous amount of waste.

In response, the fashion industry has devised a raft of plans to tackle the issue. The problem is many sustainability initiatives still place economic opportunity and growth before environmental concerns.

Efforts such as switching to more sustainable fibers and textiles and offering ethically conscious options are commendable. Unfortunately, they do very little to actually confront the sector’s rapidly increasing consumption of resources and waste generation.

Unsellable imported used clothes rot in a dumpsite in Accra, Ghana

Unsellable imported used clothes rot in a dumpsite in Accra, Ghana. Photograph: Muntaka Chasant/REX/Shutterstock

On top of this, labor rights abuses of workers in the supply chain are rife.

Over the past five years, the industry’s issues of child labor, discrimination, and forced labor have worsened globally. Major garment manufacturing countries including Myanmar, Cambodia, Bangladesh, and Vietnam are considered an “extreme risk” for modern slavery.

What is Earth5R’s Home Equals Planet project?

Home Equals Planet is an initiative comprising 15 tangible actions that citizens take on an individual level. These are a step toward a sustainable planet and a healthier lifestyle. The actions promote simple actions like eating home-cooked food, segregating waste, spending time in nature, and so on.


Home Equals Planet: 15 Actions to Change the World

Buy Less and Save Water

On average, we only wear garments 7 times before getting rid of them. 

The carbon emissions during the production of a t-shirt are 12 times more than the weight of the t-shirt itself.

Apparel production accounts for 10% of worldwide carbon emissions. 

Manufacturing new products are energy and resource-intensive process. 

The amount of water that is consumed and polluted in the processing stages of a product – called its Water Footprint or virtual water – is a looming threat our world can not afford in the face of dire water scarcity experienced by billions around the world every year. 

A single cotton t-shirt requires over 2500 liters of water.

And the carbon emissions during production are 12 times more than the t-shirt’s own weight. 

Add to this the shipping emissions which come from importing or outsourcing items and you have a recipe for environmental destruction. 

1.1 billion people worldwide lack access to water 

In a world with increasing consumerist instinct where the product you desire is a click away, one needs to understand the impact of this single click. 

Be a responsible buyer, 

  • Realize wants are different from needs. 
  • Repair what you have. 
  • Opt for resale, refurbished, or thrift options.

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Source: The Guardian

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