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Every 16 seconds, a stack of clothing the height of the Eiffel Tower is sent to landfill.

by jcp

New analysis reveals it would take less than a year for the amount of clothing that is tossed to landfill, to equal the distance to the moon

  • 64% of all garments produced globally each year end up in landfill.
  • 94m kg worth of single-use outfits are bought every year with 1 in 2 people throwing away unwanted clothes directly into the bin instead of reselling them or giving them to charity.
  • Man-made fabrics like polyester and nylon can take up to 200 years to break down in landfill, in comparison linen takes two weeks to break down naturally and even natural fibres can take years to decompose.
  • Interactive visual tool demonstrates shocking statistics on how much fashion industry waste is added to landfills every few seconds

Childrenswear brand FIVE OF US have examined and created a visualised interactive page that demonstrates just how much the fashion industry contributes to landfill each year. The interactive page compares the volume of clothing in landfill to some of the world’s most well-known landmarks. It comes as latest statistics reveal that of the 32 billion garments produced for the fashion industry each year, a whopping 64% of these will end up in landfill 1.

This gross amount of waste is due in part to the 94m kg worth of single-use outfits bought every year and partially due to the 1 in 2 people who throw unwanted clothes directly into the bin 1 instead of reselling them or giving them to charity; because of this, it is estimated that the fashion industry (and its supply chain) is the planet’s 3rd largest polluter after food and construction 1.

As you scroll through the interactive and educational page, users are asked the question “if we stacked up all the fashion landfill created in a 12 month period, how tall of a ladder would you need to climb to the top?” On-screen are statistics on fashion industry waste compared to well-known landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, Burj Khalifa, Mount Everest, The International Space Station, and even the moon, to give context to the amount of waste.

Space? That’s because the amount of clothing that is thrown to landfill every 6 hours is equivalent to the distance from Earth to the International Space Station. You’ll agree that figure is out of this world.

A spokesperson from Five of us commented saying: “At FIVE OF US, we don’t pretend to have the solution to the problem that is sustainability in the fashion industry, but we do believe that our “made to order” model is one responsible step in the right direction to reduce the problem of overproduction.”

“While the fashion industry as a whole contributes more than a trillion dollars worth of waste to landfill every year, we rarely talk about how children’s fashion contributes to this. We think one of the key areas missing in sustainability in fashion conversation is educating the next generation on how to shop and consume with sustainability in mind. More than 3.15 billion articles of children’s clothing are thrown away every year – almost half the amount of menswear, and a third of women’s 2. It’s a huge problem, and this is why we believe that it is never too early to start educating our children about sustainability, and about where their clothing comes from (and ends up).”

An additional concern the fashion industry faces when it comes to sustainability is that of how long many of the materials used by manufacturers take to decompose.

While sustainably sourced fabrics like cottons, silks and recycled fabrics break down naturally over time, most brands often turn to cheaper, man-made fabrics to make their low-cost garments. Unfortunately for the environment, this can be catastrophic. Acrylic fibres such as polyester and nylons can take anywhere from 40 to 200 years to break down in landfill, leaving a carbon footprint of up to 11.53kg of CO2e per 2sqm 3.

The spokesperson from the brand adds: “Sustainability doesn’t start and stop with our materials or the bespoke garments, instead, it is about putting it at the core of everything we do and the educational efforts we build around it. Because when you really value the clothes you have, they will last longer and in turn will have a positive impact on the environment. This is why our collection is based on a made to order model, uses responsibly sourced materials and is custom-designed to last.”