Eight Ways We Can Reduce Textile Waste in the Fashion Industry

Woman on a pile of fashion waste Latin Biz Today

We can combat textile waste and be more sustainable in our clothing choices

The fashion industry is an exciting business that creates a broad range of apparel, from undergarments that meet our basic daily needs to beautiful fashion statement pieces that define our individual style and everything in between like t-shirts, jeans, leggings, sweatshirts, jackets, etc. Think about how many pieces of apparel you wear in a 24-hour period of time from sleep clothes, work clothes, relaxing lounge clothes, workout apparel, underwear, and any outerwear necessary for the appropriate weather. With so much apparel being produced, it’s easy to see how the fashion industry can be very lucrative. The flip side to this is that it’s also destructive to the environment due to the excessive amount of waste it creates.

The rapid pace of trends in fast fashion is also a major contributor to textile waste. Trends lead consumers to buy more clothing than they need and to discard them sooner once a trend is over. Did you know that every year, approximately 92 million tons of textile waste is produced globally?

While it’s easy to put the blame on the fashion industry, we as consumers are just as responsible. We own more clothes than we used to, and we wear them less. If we look at how we shopped 15 years ago, our wardrobes were much simpler and more sustainable (using more natural fibers).

With the rise of social media showcasing everyone’s #OOTD (outfit of the day) or #GRWM (get ready with me) or #hauls (shopping sprees showcasing deals), it’s easy to understand why consumers keep buying more and more clothing. It’s a vicious cycle that keeps followers engaged, provides income to influencers who share brands’ newest items with their audience, and hence keeps brands relevant and in front of the customer on social feeds. It’s a never-ending cycle, producing more and more garments to keep up.

Much of this apparel production is created for fast fashion garments that are sold for very low prices. They are typically made with lesser quality fabrics that don’t hold up very well and yarns that can be difficult to recycle.

Some of the environmental problems that have grown due to textile waste include high water consumption, water pollution from textile dying, and synthetic clothing that sheds tiny plastic particles when washed in our home washing machines, ending up in oceans and our water supply. These microplastics are ingested by ocean life harming their health and potentially entering our food chain. Fast fashion also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions because of the nature of mass production. This is a growing factor in climate change. The fast paced and disposable nature of fashion is leading to high amounts of waste in our landfills and taking long amounts of time to decompose.

We can combat textile waste and be more sustainable in our clothing choices.

Here are a eight ways we can do our part to advocate for the planet:

  1. Reduce We can start by buying less overall and avoid impulse purchases. Think about what you already have in your closet that might create a similar look. Invest in quality pieces that will last longer and focus on building a versatile wardrobe you can mix and match.
  2. Buy Secondhand Give clothes a second life! Secondhand buying has grown exponentially within the past few years. It is no longer viewed as only a place for budget shopping. Consumers are increasingly embracing sustainability, affordability, and unique styles, fueling the growth of this sector. You might find unique vintage pieces or gently used designer clothing. Alternatively, this is a place to take your gently used items as well to make a little extra cash.
  3. Clothes Swapping Organize clothing swaps with friends or colleagues. It’s a fun way to refresh your wardrobe for free and give unwanted clothes a new home.
  4. Learn to Love Repair Small tears or loose buttons don’t mean the end of a garment. Learn basic sewing skills or find a tailor to extend the life of your clothes.
  5. Upcycle with Creativity Be creative! Old clothes can be transformed into new items like tote bags, headbands, or even cleaning cloths. There are tons of upcycling tutorials online for inspiration.
  6. Donate Responsibly Donating clothes you no longer wear is a great option. Many donated clothes are still perfectly wearable. Donating allows someone else to benefit from a garment that might otherwise be collecting dust in your closet. Shelters and charities may not be able to take everything so also look for organizations that accept used textiles for recycling programs.
  7. Change Your Social Media POV As a social media influencer, try to be more thoughtful about the content you create. Does every item you wear have to be new? Maybe you can create content showing new pieces combined with old pieces, or old pieces that have been upcycled. Maybe the brand you are promoting has a recycling program that you can mention on your feed. Also showing how to turn the existing items in your closet into different looks is a great way to show product.
  8. Support Sustainable Brands: When you do buy new, choose brands committed to ethical and sustainable practices. Look for companies using recycled materials, organic fabrics, and fair labor practices.

By being more conscientious about our fashion purchases and making sustainable fashion choices, we can make a positive impact on the environment and contribute to a more conscious fashion future.

Related content:

How Tech is Revolutionizing the Business of Fashion for Latino Entrepreneurs

Colombian born designer, Claudia Gontovnik Has a Mission to Make her Unique Line of Apparel Sustainable & Stylish

Meet Jordana Guimaraes, the Visionary Behind Fashinnovation

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