New clothes are for life… not just for Christmas.
The world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago.
Flashback to when our grandparents were young and it was a very different story. My grandmother used to use old curtains to make her own skirts, she’d sew up holes and go out of her way to make the same clothes lasted and when eventually those clothes would come to their end, she’d turn the skirt into a bag, or even a cape for one of my teddies. Nothing was wasted, even old sheets were cut in half, flipped over and sewn back together to extend their life. Heaven forbid if you bought her something new for Christmas, I’m sure she still has blouses in their wrapping that I got her in 1995.
Now, we wouldn’t dare wear an outfit twice in fear or being branded an outfit repeater. We wake up to daily headlines of fashion mistakes, good buys, bad buys, bargains and super sales, fast fashion bombards us.
Live fast, and our planet dies young.
Our planet can’t keep up with our obsession with fast fashion. With fast fashion speeding up trends and constantly pushing into the next season, your clothing is most likely to be wardrobe waste before it’s even reached its first birthday.
What happens next? These used unwanted clothes are thrown away.
Still think you have ‘nothing to wear?’
WRAP’s report on the clothing industry in the UK found we waste £30 billion in the UK each year in unused clothes.
New research from WRAP has found that:
- The annual footprints of a household’s new and existing clothing are equivalent to the weight of over 100 pairs of jeans, the water needed to fill over 1,000 bathtubs, and the carbon emissions from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles.
- The average UK household owns around £4,000 worth of clothes – but around 30% of clothing in the average wardrobe has not been worn for at least a year, most commonly because it no longer fits.
- Extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints
- Two-thirds of UK consumers buy or receive pre-owned (or second-hand) clothes, and there is a willingness to wear more, especially if a better range were available; and an estimated £140 million worth (350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year.
- The carbon emissions generated by the clothing of the average household is equivalent to driving an average modern car 6,000 miles.
- Overall, clothing contributes around: 5% of the global carbon footprint of UK goods and services; and 6-8% of the global water footprint of UK products and household use.
- Global footprint Global footprint Household footprint of UK consumption per household equivalent to of clothing Carbon 38 million tonnes 1.5 tonnes of CO2e Driving a car CO2e emissions each year 6,000 miles Water 6,300 million m3 More than 200,000 Filling over 1,000 of water litres each year bathtubs to capacity Waste 1.8 million 70 kg each year Weight of over 100 tonnes of material pairs of jeans
Global footprint of UK consumption of clothing
Global Footprint per household
Household footprint equivalent to:
38 million tonnes CO2e
1.5 tonnes CO2e emissions each year
Driving a car 6,000 miles
63 million m3 of water
More than 200,000 litres each year
Filling over 1,000 bathtubs to capacity
1.8 million tonnes of material
70kg each year
Weight of over 1000 pairs of jeans
So with the planet hurtling towards a doomed end, buried in used outfits, what can we do to turn this around?
Turning fast fashion, to fair fashion
The research from WRAP, does see a positive change… if we make it happen. The research indicates that a credible set of modest changes across the clothing life-cycle could reduce each of the carbon, water and waste footprints by as much as 10-20%. More ambitious changes could help reduce the cost of resources used to clothe the UK population by one-third, with greater savings still in the carbon and water footprints.
Implementing Best Practice
In production: Reducing the carbon footprint of the production process by just 5% through cutting waste in production, dyeing and finishing could reduce our carbon footprint by 4%, our water usage by 8% and waste by 3%.
In quality: Creating quality garments which have an extended life expectancy could reduce carbon emissions by 7%, water by 10% and overall waste by 9%.
In the aftercare: Changing the way we launder our clothes, by washing on a cool heat and avoiding tumble drying could reduce our carbon footprint by 6%.
Once we’re finished with our clothes: Reusing and recycling by an extra 5% could reduce our carbon footprint by 3% and a 1% reduction in waste.
How Sundried make our clothes ethically:
Sundried are audited by The Low Carbon Innovation Fund to ensure our products come to market with as ethical production as possible. This involves carefully selecting the materials we use, the factories we work with and the way we transport our goods.
All of our products use blends of premium fabrics to extend the life expectancy of our clothing.
Extending the life of clothing by an extra nine months of active use would reduce carbon, waste and water footprints by around 20-30% each and cut resource costs by around 20% (£5 billion); this is the single most significant intervention according to WRAPS research.
Through our aftercare:
Laundry creates around one-quarter of the carbon footprint of clothing or 3 tonnes of CO2e per tonne of clothing as a result of energy use. Throughout all our products marketing and aftercare labels we encourage you to ‘wash cool, sun dry’ ensuring that our products clean at low temperatures means we can minimise our footprint, furthered by our recommendation to ‘sun dry’, eliminating the extra waste from a tumble dryer altogether.
Sundried offer a recycling programme for all our old garments.
Around half of clothing is re-used at present, and over two-thirds of this goes overseas. Increasing the re-use rate in the UK and for export would reduce the total waste each year. There is significant willingness to buy or receive pre-owned clothes – more than two-thirds of adults have done so in the past year. Some 30% of clothing has not been worn for the last year and four in five people own at least some clothes that have not been worn because they no longer fit or need altering. This indicates there may be a substantial volume of good quality clothing suitable for re-use.
Going one step further:
2017 will see Sundried taking fabrics to a new level. Using recycled plastics and used coffee.
Sundried has been developing a sustainable technology suitable for activewear. By utilising coffee’s natural ability to block odour, the fabric is the ideal choice for some of our new garments.
Partnering with coffee shops and collecting their used coffee grounds has provided a very sustainable route to supply raw material.