Cleaning up fast fashion: Can it be done?

Read the full story at Circular.

The global textile industry has been identified as the second largest industrial polluter after the aviation sector, and consumers have become more aware of the damage that it is causing to the environment and communities in underdeveloped areas of the world.

Much of the problem stems from the popularity of fast fashion, which has led to consumers in Western countries buying more clothes more frequently, only to dispose of them after a couple of wears or at the end of the season.

A study by Aalto University has revealed that the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global pollution and textile production generates a staggering 92 million tonnes of waste per year.

Attitudes are changing however, and high-profile news reports have drawn attention to the social and environmental impact of textile waste, which is typically shipped in large quantities to countries in West Africa or South America to be “recycled” or “resold”.

Arriving in container loads, much of this textile waste reaches its destination in a damaged condition, so it can’t be reused. As a result, this waste is incinerated or ends up in landfill.

However, greater awareness of the problem is leading to a change of behaviour, with more Western consumers choosing to buy second-hand clothing and recycle or donate their used clothing. Some are also choosing to buy products made from textiles that are manufactured more sustainably and can be recycled more easily.

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