Paparazzi love when they catch celebrities wearing secondhand clothing. Drew Barrymore wore a $25 dress from a thrift shop to an awards ceremony. Julia Roberts and Zac Efron have been spotted in gently used attire. But the A-listers fashion trend hasn’t been enough to spark changes in consumer behavior.
Each year the average American throws away an estimated 81 pounds of clothing and household textiles. We clear out our closets and unload scores of outdated fashion items or barely used apparel. Sadly, nearly 95% of the used clothing and textiles can be reused and recycled. In fact, in a perfect scenario, the materials could be recycled and recycled and recycled. If consumers could re-think their use of used materials, it could have a major impact on the environment.
Our goal should be to create a circular economy. Essentially, we need to re-imagine the way we do things. Rather than examining where to put clothing and textiles we no longer need or want, we should be examining how we can reinvent new uses for these materials.
Let’s examine the textiles industry chain. The production process requires massive quantities of land, water, and fossil fuels to produce clothing. By creating a circular economy, clothing could be kept in use for longer periods of time. Research shows the purchase of 100 items from a thrift shop could displace the production of 85 new garments. If clothing is reused, repurposed or recycled it would reduce the current demand on natural resources which are used in the initial production process.
The circular economy model is not limited to clothing and textiles. According to the World Resources Institute, “More than 100 billion tons of resources enter the economy every year. Just 8.6% gets recycled and used again. Use of resources has tripled since 1970 and could double again by 2050 if business continues as usual. We would need 1.5 Earths to sustainably support our current resource use.”
Think about that fact. We would need 1.5 Earths to sustain our current resource usage. It boils down to this: it is not a matter of IF we can change consumer thinking, it is a matter of WHEN. If the changes are not made quickly, it may be too late to stop the downward spiral effect it is having on the environment.
If you are still not convinced you can still be a fashionista without buying new outfits, think of how it effects your bank account. Research shows people throw away still-wearable clothes worth an estimated $460 billion each year. Would you throw away $460 billion each year?
To save our environment, we need to rethink the way we do things. Rather than examining where to put our waste, we should be examining how we can reinvent new uses for those materials.
So, before you hit the purchase button and buy a new outfit, consider this: you too can be an A-lister. Recycle,reuse and do your part to make a difference.