Did you know that you need around 14 bathtubs of water to produce a T-shirt? In my mind, I never really questioned the fact that producing fibres is so water, energy and land intensive. Not only that but also recycling fibres is still a huge challenge with most of the disposed textiles ending up in landfill.
There has been a crescent concern around human exploitation in the fast fashion industry with a positive outcome at least in terms of awareness of that situation. Some fashion concepts are also adopting an even more impactful approach by establishing their business models around the empowerment of women in developing countries, for example. I'm proud to have collaborated with such an enterprise in 2014, when I was a photojournalist for the non-profit organisation Krochet Kids, in Lima, Peru. Nonetheless, very little has been said about the impact of the fashion industry, specially the fast one, in our planet.
I came across this issue and realised the dimension of the problem while taking the course Circular Economy at Delftx. One of the basic concepts of circular economies is thinking of Waste as Food, and it turns out that the fashion industry is pretty bad at doing this. While you can recycle old textiles into rags, rugs and filling material for mattresses and similar. Ask yourself what do you do with the clothes that you don't want or are completely worn out? Why don't we have a "4th recycling bin" for textiles? I'm tempted to say that charities are a kind of "recycling bin" for unwanted clothes, but the worn out ones are still a problem.
While we wait for a smart and accessible solution to recycle textiles I can't stop but wonder that part of that solution - as always - lies within us. And by us I mean consumers. Do we really need to buy so many clothes? In what way does buying new clothes makes us feel better about ourselves? Is there another way to feel good about our image that doesn't involve buying new clothes? Try to consciously answer these questions the next time you feel like buying the latest fashionable piece of garment.