large pile of old clothes

|| 1 September 2016

Fast Fashion Is Creating An Environmental Crisis

In various Chic & Slim writing I have given you all the good reasons for having a small, functional wardrobe of quality clothing. Here is one more reason for small wardrobes of quality: preventing environmental pollution. Today we are seeing especially younger women buying lots of cheap clothing made of poor quality materials with poor craftsmanship. What is happening to a great deal of this cheap clothing is that it ends up in the trash. This is creating an environmental problem.

The Newsweek article Fast Fashion Is Creating an Environmental Crisis is long, detailed and, I found, tedious to read. But the article contains information of which anyone who buys and wears clothes should be aware. I have excerpted some of the article’s important information below. Following the excerpts is a link to the Newsweek article.

When natural fibers, like cotton, linen and silk, or semi-synthetic fibers created from plant-based cellulose, like rayon, Tencel and modal, are buried in a landfill, in one sense they act like food waste, producing the potent greenhouse gas methane as they degrade. But unlike banana peels, you can’t compost old clothes, even if they're made of natural materials. They’ve been bleached, dyed, printed on, scoured in chemical baths.” Those chemicals can leach from the textiles and—in improperly sealed landfills—into groundwater. Burning the items in incinerators can release those toxins into the air.

Meanwhile, synthetic fibers, like polyester, nylon and acrylic, have the same environmental drawbacks, and because they are essentially a type of plastic made from petroleum, they will take hundreds of years, if not a thousand, to biodegrade.

Americans are blithely trashing more clothes than ever: 80 pounds per person per year. The EPA estimates that diverting all of those often-toxic trashed textiles into a recycling program would be the environmental equivalent of taking 7.3 million cars and their carbon dioxide emissions off the road.

Even traditional markets for used clothes, such as poor parts of Asia and Africa, are rejecting forward fashion-wear as too shoddy.

What about recycling for unwanted used clothing? Commercially scalable, closed-loop textile recycling technology is still five to 10 years away, at best.

In an earlier day in the USA, women tore old clothing into strips and braided the strips and then sewed the strips into circular rag rugs and used them for floor covering. But I am very sure that day is past. A small, functional wardrobe of quality items that you can wear for years and look chic is a far easier and practical solution.

Fast Fashion Is Creating an Environmental Crisis

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

image: pile of old clothes