The apparel industry alone accounts for 6.7 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. The industry’s impact increased 35 per cent from 2005 to 2016 and is projected to increase further 49 per cent by 2030.
The forces behind the industry’s impact on the environment are multifaceted. They include evolving consumer habits, shifting tastes and preferences in materials, and production operations in far-flung locations. For example, a polyester shirt, while cheap to buy, releases micro-plastics each time it is washed, and that is bad for the environment. Fast fashion is very tempting. The attractive prices make consumers more than what they need. Fast fashion is an institution few young people pay attention to, even though it’s where much of their disposable income goes. In 2018, Americans purchased an average of 68 garments. On an average, a British woman wears a garment only seven times.
Clothing recycling will play a significant part in nudging the industry from being linear to more circular. There has been a fundamental, generational shift in consumers’ willingness to tailor purchases to their impact on the environment. In a 2018 Nielson survey, 75 per cent of millennials said that they definitely or probably will change their purchase/consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.