Globally, consumers purchase $80 billion items of new clothing every year. That’s a 400 percent jump in the amount of clothing we purchased just 20 years ago, according to fashion documentary, The True Cost.
As fashion trends change and retailers crank out collections at a faster rate, what happens to all the clothes you donate or throw away? And what are startups doing to revolutionize the industry?
CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo reports.
Let’s follow your clothes on a journey through U.S. non-profit, Goodwill. When you first donate an item, it goes to the retail store.
Wet, moldy clothes are discarded and eventually unsold clothing head to the outlet store. Clothes are sold by weight or sent to their cheaper ninety-nine cent retailer.
If still unsold, it heads to auction, where blind bidding means buyers purchase large bins of clothing without knowing the contents.
Leftover auction items get resold in the U.S. or shipped overseas by textile recyclers. Remaining items are processed and shredded for industrial use, like insulation or filler for cushions and couches.
But for many items we buy, a landfill is the final destination. And in 2013 in the U.S., that’s where nearly 13 million tons of clothing ended up.
The pressure to quickly produce trendy, affordable clothing – or fast fashion – to keep up with demand has had tragic consequences. Unsafe working conditions leading to deadly fires and non-biodegradable clothing piling up in landfills.
But increasingly, we’re seeing more companies turning to sustainable fashion – the philosophy of ethically and ecologically responsible clothing which can be supported indefinitely in terms of human impact on the environment.
Modern Meadow bio-prints leather using samples of living cells from animals, without harming them. And investors are taking note – they’ve poured more than $53 million of funding into the company, it is set to move from research and development to production.
Startup Reformation puts sustainability at the heart of a garment’s entire lifecycle. From green manufacturing, to packaging to recycling old clothes into new fashion, their goal is to be completely sustainable – meaning everything they use and spend can be completely offset. Now increasingly, established retailers are also heeding the call.
Julie Zerbo on sustainable fashion
For more on sustainable fashion，CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Julie Zerbo, founder & editor-in-chief of The Fashion Law.