Australians pack in around 15kg of new clothes each year and when it comes to fast fashion, we’re the world’s second-highest textile consumer per capita.
Our poor record of textile and clothing recycling is worse than a ballet pump return – in 2019 we generated 780,000 tonnes of textile waste, of which only seven per cent was recycled and the rest went straight to landfill. Combine that with the morally ambiguous way fast fashion brands famously label new designs ‘ethical’, like a bad ex donning a new haircut, and suddenly we unconsciously pat ourselves on the back and give it a green tick. from our use of clothing.
It’s also clear that Australia has a toxic relationship with clothing waste.
So for National Recycling Week (NRW), we really want to focus on wardrobe waste. This year, the theme is all about ‘waste isn’t waste until it’s wasted’, giving your stuff a second life, reducing the need to buy new products and of course recycling.
We decided to speak to Alexis Todorowski from SCRgroup, Australia’s largest unwanted clothing recovery company and a key player in diverting over 25 million kilograms of clothing from landfill, to get a better idea of how we can all get started and do our bit. longer life of clothing and textiles.
Can you explain the impact of the “wear once” culture and what people should look for when buying new clothes?
Every time you buy a new item, it takes a lot of natural and man-made resources to create it.
Borrowing, renting or buying second-hand significantly reduces the resources used and also has less impact on the environment and wallet. We’re already seeing a shift in the “wear it once” culture, with many celebrities re-wearing iconic outfits on the red carpet.
Wearing the same thing several times does not go out of style, on the contrary, it shows that your clothes are of good quality and classic. If you’re worried about getting stained when re-wearing, there are fun and simple ways to make an outfit look a little different. Styling it with different accessories, shoes and even hair and makeup can make a difference.
So what’s the most effective way to reduce your wardrobe’s environmental impact?
The most effective way to reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe is to re-wear your clothes until they wear out. Research shows that clothing is typically worn 100-200 times, but some pieces are only worn 10 times.
The next step is to take care of your clothes and make sure they last as long as possible. Take the time to check the garment’s care instructions to make sure you wash it properly.
Both steps will help reduce the need to buy new items, and when it’s time to buy something new, make sure second-hand clothing is your first stop, and if you can’t find what you need there, buy from sustainable brands. creates high-quality and long-lasting fabrics.
How can we reduce our personal contribution to the clothing landfill?
Being thoughtful and shopping less will reduce the number of unwanted clothes.
Repairing your clothes instead of throwing them away will also save you money. When you want to get rid of your clothes, look into reselling them online or at local markets. If that’s not possible, try a drop-off center.
Finally, can you share an idea on how we can better keep our clothes part of the circular economy?
Re-wearing your clothes shouldn’t just be limited to you – swap clothes with friends and family.
Resell your clothes and donate them to charities.
Refurbishing your clothes and turning them into something new also helps make clothes part of the circular economy. You can easily turn an old pair of jeans into new denim shorts, and an old pillowcase can become a new bed for your pet.
SCRgroup is committed to diverting almost 100 percent of its collections from landfill and converting non-reusables into rags or biofuels.
Image credit: Urban List