Throwing away clothing doesn’t just add to space to your closet, it adds to landfills. Approximately 10 million tons of textile waste is produced annually within North America, according to the Circular Innovation Council. It is therefore vital to play a part in sustainable clothes shopping in order to help the environment.
Landfills are nothing more than a storage facility for waste. They cause severe health concerns for people in the surrounding area and for the environment itself. According to the Ontario Nature Organization, approximately 37kg of clothing per Canadian ends up in landfills. The mass amounts of clothing waste contributes to the environmental crisis directly caused by these landfills.
The fast fashion industry has participated in the increase of clothing imports into Canada to $17.46 billion in 2022, according to Statista. This is a $13 billion dollar increase from the previous year.
Josh Mankz is the co-owner of a popup thrift store called StreetCvlture who believes strongly in the benefits thrifting brings to the community. “There so much [clothing] that is over produced that you have no choice but to figure out a sustainable way to [shop],” he says while discussing the reasons for starting his own sustainable clothing store. Mankz states, “I have a rule where I don’t bring in new clothes until I get rid of old ones,” which supports his brand, and helps minimize the excess shopping of clothing.
Approximately 50% of clothing people buy isn’t worn, according to the Circular Innovation Council. Thrifters like Kaitlyn Cottam are aware of this issue. Cottam has a way to help remind her of clothing which takes up space, “I try to put them on the top of my drawer […] and if I still don’t wear them after a month I give them away,” she says.
Thrifting isn’t typically a one-time experience. “Pretty much everything I wear is thrifted,” says thrifter Brigitte Fitzsimmons.
Many thrifters are attracted the “one of kind” experience of buying second hand clothes but are also enticed by the environmental benefits it has. “There’s so much water waste that goes into making new clothes every year,” Fitzsimmons says. Making new clothing doesn’t just create water waste, but pollution, toxins, and unfit working conditions are just a few of the many reasons fast fashion is destroying the environment.
Upcycling and other sustainable practices are necessary to minimize clothing waste, and remembering to consider want versus need when making buying choices can go a long way.