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Why Just Donating Your Old Clothes Isn’t Enough To End The Textile Waste Crisis

Let's talk trash to help close the clothing loop.

It’s a common fear to be unexpectedly confronted with the mistakes of your past, so when a 3000kg mound of textile waste appeared in St Kilda last week, locals found themselves facing a clothing intervention of mass proportions.

Every 5 minutes, just one of these 3000kg clothing heaps are dumped into your local landfill. 

To help combat the clothing crisis, Vanish Australia has announced a goal to divert one million clothing items from landfill over the next two years to help #MakeTextileWasteVanish. Partnering with textile upcycler Upparel, the initiative aims to educate Australians on how to help reduce textile waste, including by prolonging the life cycle of clothes through better care and re-wear.

Textile waste
(Credit: Vanish Australia)

Textile waste is a hidden issue, but not a vanishing one and we need to take action today to ensure a better tomorrow. By extending the life cycle of our clothing we can reduce landfill, greenhouse gas emissions, and the energy used to create and dispose of unwanted clothing,” explains Upparel’s founder and CEO, Michael Elias. “Upparel is at the forefront of the circular economy and we’re proud to partner with Vanish to help eradicate textile waste for the necessary benefit of future generations.”

The root of the problem lies within the confines of our closets: the last season’s skirts you’ve fallen out of love with, the lockdown purchase you bought for the ‘when everything opens up’ sitting with its tags on or shoes of decades past still waiting for the great revival. It’s unsurprising then that the average Australian only wears 4% of their wardrobe on a regular basis.

Tina Elias, founder of textile upcycler, Upparel. (Credit: Vanish Australia)

Since the pandemic, our rubbish habits have only escalated with 71% of Australians preferring to purchase new clothes over second hand due to hygiene reasons (according to Vanish’s ‘Stain on the National report’). 

Tina Elias, co-founder of Upparel, believes the best way forward is through education. “Vanish conducted research where they found that over three million people thought it was OK to put their textiles in their red general waste bin. This act alone results in clothing and textiles wrongly making their way into landfill, taking years to break down. We need people to know that you can’t do that. For me, that’s a huge driving force to get up each day.”

Textile waste
(Credit: Vanish Australia)

To help support the cause, marie claire are committed to helping champion #RewearWednesdays, an initiative that spotlights the need for more sustainable clothing consumption behaviours. This includes properly caring for your clothes can help prolong the life of garment, repairing damaged clothes or styling old outfits to give them a second life and shopping smarter at charity shops or more consciously for quality pieces. 

marie claire beauty editor, Sally Hundwick dons her favourite cream shirt for #rewearwednesdays.

For more information on how you can help #MakeTextileWasteVanish follow @vanishnapisan_au 

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