Fast fashion is the industry’s biggest challenge. Global clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years; we’re buying more low-quality garments than ever before, and we’re using them 40% less. We have also seen an increase in the number of fast fashion garments donated to us. And while we have donation guidelines, what one person might consider acceptable to re-circulate, we consider these garments at their end-of-life.
Our community are already actively participating in changing market signals, shopping second-hand with us—and many other resellers. Our hope is that we increasingly choose resale rather than fast fashion, where budget is the motivation.
In Aotearoa, we import over 380,000 tonnes of textile products, and half of that ends up landfilled. Globally, less than 1% of textiles are recycled. A further 4,242 tonnes of unsold garments are exported overseas annually, where often these garments contribute to environmental destruction and reseller debt.
Roughly 30% of donated clothing is undesirable, and these garments cannot be repaired. For months, we were storing these donations while we researched our options, and then December last year, UPPAREL launched textile recycling in Aoteroa.
Founded by Michael and Tina Elias, who have spearheaded sustainability and circular principles from day one in Australia, Jeff Vollebregt is the director of UPPAREL here in Aotearoa. UPPAREL has brought us—and many others, one step closer to some sort of utopia where our waste could become something else.
To date, we have recycled 219.5kg of clothing and prevented 768kg of greenhouse gas emissions through our partnership and remain invested in educating our community on the impact their purchases have on our planet but also on the livelihoods of workers engaged in the fast-fashion industry.