Who knew that the statement “I have nothing to wear” could yield so much fashion waste and be so detrimental to the environment? With the growing presence of e-commerce, new clothes can be purchased at the push of a button whenever consumers feel like their wardrobe is insufficient. However, with that convenience comes a pressing drawback. Society’s constant desire for the newest and trendiest has become intrinsically intertwined with a culture of massive fashion waste. Once clothes go “out of style,” they head swiftly to landfill, creating fashion waste that just continues to build.
A 2015 study found that household consumption accounted for 60% of greenhouse gas emissions and 50 to 80% of all use of land, water, and materials. Diana Ivanova, a research fellow at the Norweigan University of Science and Technology, helped lead the study. Ivanova said there could only be hope if drastic change were performed.
“We all like to put the blame on someone else, the government, or businesses…But between 60-80 percent of the impacts on the planet come from household consumption. If we change our consumption habits, this would have a drastic effect on our environmental footprint as well,” Ivanova said.
To put it simply, fashion acts as one of the most wasteful industries in the world, with its negative impacts exacerbated by the popularization of fast fashion companies like H&M and Forever 21.
Is there any way to help alleviate this problem? How can consumers continue to seek fast fashion options without sacrificing the conservation of the environment?
Digital Resellers Combat Fashion Waste
To mitigate the issue of clothes ending up in landfill, digital resellers are financially incentivizing customers to join their platforms. With popular platforms like Poshmark, consumers have the option to list their clothes for sale online.
The convenience that such platforms introduce tap into consumers’ desire to get rid of their clothes, but also in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.
But even so, digital reselling will be far from enough to solve the fashion waste problem.
But That Will Be Far From Enough
Although it’s true that digital platforms meant to facilitate reselling indeed mitigate the fashion waste problem, it will take more than that to truly move the needle.
Fortunately, sustainability has quickly become a major point of conversation in the fashion industry. Over the past year, a growing number of major companies like Adidas and Nike have announced initiatives to be less harmful to the environment.
Just recently, Prada took out a $55 million loan in a commitment to more sustainable practices within the company.
To get a better idea of what companies are doing about the fashion waste problem, The Rising spoke with eShakti CEO B.G. Krishnan. At eShakti, products aren’t made until a customer has purchased the item. In other words, the company has no clothing inventory, just fabric on-hand. This means that eShakti never has fashion waste by the end of a season.
Krishnan said the company launches twenty-five new products every day and each garment is custom-made. Due to this, customers can expect a 9 to 13-day ship time. And in an age where deliveries are expected to come in two days with Amazon Prime, this could possibly hinder consumer interest.
What Can Other Fashion Companies Do?
According to Krishnan, when fashion companies are looking to reduce their carbon footprint, it is important to focus on supply and demand.
“This idea helps us keep the fashion fresh since we can remove any design that is less in-demand,” Krishnan said. “So, it is not just customization where we thrive, but also in fast fashion.”
Krishnan says there are several different ways fashion companies can be less environmentally harmful outside of just limiting inventory. Whether it’s through sourcing more sustainable fabric or changing packaging, companies have a lot of options to be more environmentally-conscious.
But Consumers Have A Role To Play In Reducing Fashion Waste Too
But, companies can’t solve the problem alone. Everyone can be more environmentally conscious when making shopping purchases.
“Invest in clothes that you will wear more than once. If you do happen to wear a few times and want to move on, look to donate versus discarding,” Krishnan said. “Also, make customization a priority so clothing looks good on you.”
The culture of fast fashion has fed into a seemingly insatiable desire for more. However, fast fashion also implies a faster dying process for the planet.
Overall, it’s important to note that when it comes fashion waste, it’s a consideration that should be made on both the consumer and business sides.