Out Of Style But Never Gone
posted by Caroline Giraldo
Reality—two sides of the same coin. The main difference between these two pictures is that most of us only ever see or think about the one on the left. We see colorful clothes in attractive displays, pick out what is on-trend and flattering, and take it home with us. While we may hold on to some garments, most of us get rid of our 'old', 'ugly' or 'out of style' pieces regularly and replace it with something new. Once it’s no longer in our immediate possession we forget about it and rarely consider where it ends up. Think about all of the clothing you have parted ways over the years. How many racks could you fill?
Both population and production has soared exponentially since the 1950s. Thinking about an individual’s contribution to landfills each year may seem minuscule, but what about when we multiply it by the 7.46+ billion people that live on Earth? Sure, not everyone produces the same amount of fashion-related waste—but it is still estimated that we are operating over 140 percent past the planet’s carrying capacity (Robertson, 2017). In other words, we are out-using the resources our planet can provide.
Along with a growth in population and production is consumption and waste. Change needs to happen and both consumer habits and industry practices need to be evaluated. It’s difficult to imagine how ideals like longevity and sustainability can work with the current reality of growth and development. Our plant and its population will not stop reproducing or working towards a better standard of living—so how do we make a future possible?
Robertson (2017) discusses the economic growth model and economic transformation, “the new economy will need to reuse and recycle every material…and…consume renewable resources at a rate lower than their natural rate of renewal.” This will require policy change and a greater focus on local production and consumption in order to adequately allocate resources for the entire population. To skeptics this may sound implausible, but the truth of the matter is that this is our only option. Our planet and its population cannot continue on its projected path, it’s impossible.
Waste doesn’t just begin and end with our own personal disposals, it exists everywhere. The textile industry is the world’s second largest polluter, right behind the oil industry (Nania, 2017). How can we hope to improve social, economic, and environmental conditions if we ignore one of the main contributors? Viable alternative energy exists. Materials for long-lasting products exist. We must stop seeing clothing as a disposable product and demand that fashion companies equally value people and the planet as they do their profit.
Nania, R. (2017, September 6). Sustaining fashion: New exhibit shows clean take on dirty industry. Retrieved from http://wtop.com/life-style/2017/09/sustaining-fashion-new-exhibit-shows-clean-take-dirty-industry/slide/1/
Robertson, M. (2017). Sustainability Principles and Practice. London: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group