How to Cull the Plastic Waste in Your Wardrobe: Earth Day 2023 – In the run-up to Earth Day 2023, we once again shine a light on the fashion industry and whether it is making the successful inroads necessary to cut its plastic reduction and ultimately limit its impact on the environment.
A report by WIRED earlier this year highlighted some alarming statistics. Annually, “the industry uses 342 million barrels of petroleum to produce plastic-based fibres such as polyester, nylon or acrylic…equating to 1.35 per cent of global oil consumption.”
As the ongoing energy crisis has highlighted, the longevity of oil is drastically decreasing. While major steps have been and continue to be taken to reduce the industry’s dependency on plastic, the sheer quantity of items being produced makes this task even more complex.
Currently, the fashion industry is producing more than double the amount of clothing that it was back at the turn of the millennium. Let’s look at some of the issues present and how you, as a consumer, can combat them, and transform your wardrobe into one that’s plastic-free.
Hangers, packaging, and trigger-happy throwaways
There are various things, beyond the actual production of the clothes, that are significantly contributing to the plastic waste associated with the fashion industry.
Research by sustainable material manufacturers Arch & Hook detail that more than 128 billion plastic hangers are used globally every year – to put that into perspective, that equates to approximately 18 hangers per person. Worryingly, many of these hangers end up in the landfill.
Packaging is also an issue – back in 2018 fashion associated packaging waste generated 174.1kg per person in the EU. Of course, the pandemic extenuated the issue with the mass uplift in online shopping.
And, of course, the growing popularity of the fast fashion industry and consumers’ one-wear and-throw habits are additional ingredients of booming plastic waste – the global market of fast fashion is expected to grow to $133.43 billion in 2026, up from $91.23 billion in 2021.
We look at the simple things you can do to cut the waste associated with your wardrobe…
Shop recycled brands
It may seem self-explanatory but shopping with brands that use 100 per cent recycled polyester in their products is undoubtedly the most effective solution to drive down the plastic waste associated with your fit. You’re not confined to niche market stall traders either, big names brands have committed to immersing themselves in fully recycled materials, such as using recycled PET plastics in their sustainable women’s shoes.
Hold off on the next spin
Just to clarify, we’re not suggesting that you let your clothes get dirty beyond the point of repair or to the stage that they smell pungent but, by refraining from washing them after every use, you can effectively maintain the fibres and extend the usable life of the product. Bring out the sniff test if you must.
Cull the tumble dryer (if you can)
The tumble dryer is an amazing appliance to have in the home, but we tend to overuse it and call upon its help incorrectly when drying certain garments. To avoid shredding the microfibres, drying naturally is the way to go.
What better way to limit the number of items you need than to strategically plan your wardrobe formation?
According to sustainably-chic.com, a capsule wardrobe is a “limited selection of interchangeable clothing pieces that complement each other. These are often classic pieces that do not go out of style and are primarily composed of neutral colours.
Choose your base colour, your black, grey, or navy – this is what makes up the base layer and will form the foundations of each outfit. Try to choose the likes of jeans, skirts, and trousers in these notes. You’ll need between 2-3 base layers.
Then add your accent colours – these are your more colourful items that’ll help bring life to your wardrobe and complement your other pieces of clothing. Between 3 and 5 accent colours will suffice. Finally, let’s call upon the patterns – the added extra that brings the necessary variety to your style. With patterns, we’d propose 2-3 again. So, there you have it, a minimalist, yet effective, sustainable wardrobe. Then, a simple pair of sneakers will make all the difference – take a pair of Converse for example.
Here we’ve detailed just some of the ways in which you can drive down the waste associated with your wardrobe – what other tactics are you currently employing?