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STYLE AND SUSTAINABILITY

There’s a lot of pressure to dress to impress. Trends and fads quickly come and go. Sometimes your clothes and how you dress can make you better accepted in society. It can lead to more, and even better, opportunities. 

If you’re like me, my closet is full of clothes I barely touch. There’s the pile I always use, the pile for special occasions, and another pile for when I lose weight – or something that meets similar conditions. A reward of some sort when I achieve a physical goal. But more than half of these articles of clothing have just been sitting there for years.

I don’t even consider myself a fashionista, and that’s mostly because it’s really expensive to be one. To be fashionable comes with a price – and not just financially. The fashion industry produces a lot of industrial waste, second to aviation.  There have been questions on how fashion, as an industry, could possibly be made sustainable if it won’t sacrifice its current structure and production.

Impact of the fashion industry on the environment and society

Accumulated waste piles up rapidly because the industry relies on mass-manufacturing garments that are short-lived. Most clothes have faster wear and tear, even the fabric has a short life which means it would be harder to repair. Because of this, we tend to buy and replace our clothes more often than ideal. Quality and long-lasting fabric are also expensive and not as widely accessible as mass-produced garments.

From statistics, disposable outfits generated about 208 million pounds of waste in 2019. Over 60% of garments produced end up in a landfill. Some brands also destroy their unsold merchandise every year. These brands would use incinerators or landfills, further damaging the environment.

What we can do about it

As individuals, we have the responsibility to make sure that we’re not contributing to the continued piles of wasted garments. 

BUY QUALITY CLOTHING

When we can, we make sure that the clothes we buy are of good quality. Investing on good quality clothing is the best way to ensure that we buy less of it. We should also buy clothes that we would really wear regularly.

REPAIR OR RECYCLE CLOTHES

One of the reasons for the accumulated waste is because clothes are often treated as disposable items. Repairing them to give them a longer lease can reduce this waste.

There’s a town in Italy called Prato that started to turn waste textiles into new clothes. They do this by stripping the materials that they get back into fibers and using those fibers for new clothing. Over 140 million kilograms of materials were converted into fibers by Prato’s textile industry in 2017.

ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO DO THE SAME

As individuals, we can only do so much. And our efforts may seem to be in vain because the transition into sustainable fashion means reinventing an industry that is bigger than ourselves. But this doesn’t mean we should just give up and give in to how things have always been. With 95% of recyclable fabrics thrown in landfills, doing our small efforts in reducing that waste is still an improvement.

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