Fashion Waste Is the Next Environmental Crisis

According to a recent story from The Guardian, “for those in and around the [fashion] industry, garment waste has long been [rumored] to be the next big scandal.”

“Globally, levels of production and consumption are forecast to increase as fashion waste becomes an environmental crisis to rival plastic pollution in oceans,” the story notes. And those levels of consumption are getting absurd. People in the UK bought 1.13 billion tons of new clothing in 2016, and trashed 235 million pieces just last spring.

And that’s only the consumer side of things. There’s also the waste that’s generated during production – which is a much harder figure to pin down, as it’s “hidden along a chaotic supply chain.” Still, industry insiders estimate it can “represent 3-5% of every factory’s inventory.” And when that 3-5% is applied to a factory producing upwards of 240 million pieces a year, the results are grim – especially in the regions where production is occurring.

“You see [the waste in Dhaka] by the side of the road being sold, or just dumped, but a lot is burned,” Estonian designer and clothing waste researcher, Reet Aus, said. “I know a brick factory near the garment district where the main fuel is garment waste.”

On the upside, some brands, like H&M, have made a concerted effort to recycle old clothes (although they’ve also faced a litany of issues due to the difficulty of converting garments back to raw materials). Regardless, it’s imperative that more companies follow suit, or we’ll all be facing some dire consequences.

You can read more about it at The Guardian.

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