THE TRUTH BEHIND FAST FASHION CLOTHING RECYCLING
by Caterina Dri 5B
If you wished to see the fruit of consumerism, it would be enough to sit down for a few minutes in front of the Bardelli Gallery in Udine. The frenetic traffic in front of the door of Zara, one of the biggest clothing multinationals in the world, will offer you a continuous pastime. People leaving the shop with bags full of clothes, of which most of them will perhaps remain unused in the wardrobe, are the fruit of the constant desire for the new. A little further away, however, there’s the solution to their sense of guilt: a yellow bin with the word “Caritas” on it. In fact, recycling seems to be the best solution to their constant desire to have new clothes, even if they are of low quality.
But what is behind fast fashion clothes recycling?
Once the garment has been thrown into the container, we are convinced that it will be destined for reuse. The whole truth, however, is not this. According to a 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur foundation, in Europe and USA only 70% of the clothes collected are in the real conditions for recycling. The other 30% is garbage. Of the 70%, 20% is resold on the home market, 80% shipped to poor countries, which for example includes Ghana.
The capital of Ghana Accra, indeed, receives about 30 thousand tons per year of clothes. Our second-hand clothes are sold in an illegal market, from which the smartest and fastest can take advantage of them. A girl from that country, however, speaking of us, said that “water is just as expensive as clothes are for these people. That’s why they wear their clothes a couple of times, and then throw them away “. In fact, the quality of our clothes is so low that we cause problems for Ghana (and actually for all the environment). Many clothes can no longer be sold, because they are just garbage. As a result, Ghana’s ability to handle waste in one day has doubled. Many are burned in incinerators, causing air pollution. Many are accumulated in the landfills, which appear to be huge piles of used clothing, like mountains of colored sand. However, the fabric takes hundreds of years to decompose. The pieces of unsuitable cloth during the monsoon season block the city’s sewers and others end up in the sea creating arms of twisted fabric.
Fast fashion therefore not only creates pollution during production, in fact T-shirt needs 2770 liters of water, but also damages the environment after its use. Perhaps, therefore, when we buy a new garment, especially if the price is low, we should think about those colored “dunes” of clothes, as among them there could be that never-used T-shirt that we had hidden in the most remote corner of our wardrobe, until we decided to recycle because it was out of fashion.
- Dead white man’s clothes, by Linton Besse, in Ghana for ABC News;
- Why Recycling Our Clothes Won’t Save The World, by Leslie Johnston, TEDxINSEAD;
- Cosa succede agli indumenti riciclati? by Emily Chan, Vogue Italia;
- I Broke Up With Fast Fashion and You Should Too, by Gabriella Smith, TEDxWynwoodWomen.