According to social enterprise, Textile Beat, the average Australian abandons 23 out of the 27 kilograms of textiles we each purchase per year. This amounts to 500,000 tonnes of leather and textiles, according to figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Taking this a step further, the final home of these fabrics takes the form of landfill. “Two-thirds of those discards are manmade synthetic/plastic fibres that may never breakdown.”
Polyester, acrylic, nylon – you don’t have to be a shopaholic for these words to sound familiar. They are stamped on most of the clothes we have been purchasing and proudly wearing throughout our lives. However, seldom do we think about the step subsequent to the ‘wearing’. Moreover, do we think of the same fabrics that are unsold by these brands? Even more sadly, the ones that remain unused?
The advantages associated with some of these fibres involve the ability to create waterproof fabrics. They can also create stain and wrinkle resistant products. Great!
The disadvantages? One term – non-biodegradable. So, when these fabrics hit our landfill, they tend to resist breaking down in soil, with harmful chemicals used during the manufacturing process, seeping out into the environment off which we live. Not so great!
We now live in a time where the emergence of Web 2.0 (the social media users and bloggers of the world) has allowed the general public to create the content being shared. With this in mind, people are increasingly thinking in a more active fashion. With this thinking comes questions that are spread and often in a viral way. As such, consumers are now questioning the origin of what we wear at an increasing rate. And so they should.
Thinking critically about the nature of fast fashion, the public began asking, Who Made My Clothes? This term has taken the face of Fashion Revolution’s on going campaign surrounding ethical fashion. Delving more deeply into this idea, the public began asking things more like, ‘how were my clothes made?’
Bamboo, cork, cashmere. Again, no fashion degree necessary to know these terms. Meet the sustainable counterparts to aforementioned fibres. Bamboo is a grass originating from Eastern Asia. Having been born from the ground, this fibre is able to return to its original home at the end of its lifespan. The perfect encapsulation of sustainability.
Focussing on a brand’s production line, whether human resources are harmed in the making, is a great thing. We are also already thinking about the fabrics used in the making. It is due time we think about where these fabrics will end up! How will these fibres affect the environment off which we sustain ourselves?
All of this points to one answer when the million-dollar question arises, ‘what is the way forward’? Simply, think forward. Think, bamboo.