Fold mountains

Fast fashion trash is suffocating developing countries with mountains of trash

Less than 1% used clothing is recycled into new clothes, overwhelming countries like Ghana with rejections. From a report: It’s a disaster that’s been brewing for decades, as clothing has become cheaper, more plentiful and increasingly disposable. Every year, the fashion industry produces more than 100 billion items of clothing, or about 14 for every person on Earth and more than double the amount in 2000. Every day, tens of millions of items of clothing are discarded to make place for new clothes, many of which have become so- called recycling bins. Few know that old clothes are rarely recycled into new ones because the technology and infrastructure don’t exist to do so on a large scale.

Instead, discarded clothes enter a global second-hand supply chain that strives to extend their life, if only a little, by reusing them as cleaning rags, mattress padding or insulation. But the rise of fast fashion – and shoppers’ preference for quantity over quality – has led to a glut of low-value clothing that threatens to sink the economy of this trade and weighs disproportionately on countries. in development. Meanwhile, the myth of circularity is spreading, shielding businesses and consumers from the inconvenient reality that the only way out of the global textile waste crisis is to buy less, buy better and wear more. long time. In other words, put an end to fast fashion.

[…] According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a British non-profit organisation, less than 1% of used clothing is made into new clothing globally. (In contrast, 9% of plastic and about half of paper are recycled.) Retailers have sworn that what they collect will never go to landfill or waste. But the reality is much more complicated. Clothes abandoned during in-store take-back programs enter the multi-billion dollar global supply chain, joining a torrent of trash from charity trash cans, thrift stores and online resale platforms like ThredUp and Sellpy. The complex task of sorting this waste stream falls to a largely invisible global industry of brokers and processors. Their business depends on exporting a large part of the garments to developing countries for spare clothing. This is the most cost-effective option and, in theory, the most environmentally friendly, since reusing objects consumes fewer resources than recycling them.