Did you know that annual reports of the fashion industry indicate that as much as 4% of the global waste footprint is made up of clothing? Try to imagine what 92 million tonnes of clothing looks like piled up, well that’s the amount sent mostly to landfill around the world each year.
Here in Australia on average, our contribution to this waste activity amounts to 23kgs of clothing (per Australian) disposed of each year.
As a society our insatiable appetite for the latest fashion is having a significant impact on the environment. Many claiming that thanks to 'fast fashion' the clothing industry has become the second largest polluter in the world, second only to oil production. Disturbingly the industry is responsible for contributing 10% of global greenhouse gases, becoming the second largest consumer of global water supplies and major contributor to micro plastics in our oceans. I think we can all agree that something needs to change here.
Here in Far North Queensland, on average Cairns residents dispose of more than 3000 tonnes of textiles/clothing per year, unfortunately this material is not recyclable through Council systems.
Are we as consumers and producers of waste truly taking responsibility for this material, what other opportunities are there?
The good news is that we do have many options to avoid clothing waste, to reduce and reuse this material, successfully avoiding landfill.
Let’s look at a few tips that can help us achieve more sustainable outcomes:
- 1. Buying less of the material all together- and doing so responsibly.
Buying only what we need and perhaps even paying more for higher quality, more durable items. (perhaps saving a little longer, for the items we really want).
- 2. Ever considered clothing rental? In addition to suit/bridal hire companies, there are opportunities now days for corporate clothing rental, you'll have the cutting edge look and be reducing waste at the same time! Further information here: www.glamcorner.com.au/on-demand
- 3. Make plans, consider clothing reuse, shop and of course donate your pre-loved items to family, friends or Cairns locations such as Salvation Army, Vinnies, Lifeline, the Council Buy Back Shop (via CRC Transfer Stations) and many more.
- 4. Recycling options – though not accepted in kerbside recycling, clothing retailers H&M, Zara and Manrags each have garment collection programs for clothing or textiles, which they reuse or recycle directly. Also, keep an eye on the recycling near you website for further information and new offerings for waste reduction, reuse & recycling.
Lastly, when clothing has reached the point of not being technically wearable (up for interpretation) it still doesn’t have to be disposed of, consider upcycling. Take those old t-shirts and make something new, like a reusable bag. Get in touch with Boomerang Bags Cairns for more information.