The Era of Disposable Clothes

It’s Fashion Week in New York! Designers are unveiling their new lines – from shoes to accessories, dresses, skirts and for some, even wedding gowns! The oohs and ahs will be recorded in the newspapers, put up on You Tube, and blogs will be buzzing about everything from fabrics to cuts. In a timely article for CNN, Elizabeth Cline author of the book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, discussed this very subject and America’s love of disposable fashion.

Cline said that for the first time in history, people are consuming clothes as a disposable good, buying a cheap item for a single event and then wearing it only once or twice. More than 80 billion garments are produced around the world today. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the nation is throwing away 68 pounds of textiles per person per year. Per person. Per year. On average, Americans spend $1,700 a year on apparel – about one new garment per week – or 68 garments and 7 pairs of shoes. Cheap or expensive, that is a lot of textiles!

The World Bank reports that 17-20% of industrial water pollution is due to textile dyeing and treatment. Making a garment – cheap or expensive – consumes a very high quantity of fresh water. To produce one cotton t-shirt consumes about 700 gallons of water. In 2011 Planet Aid collected 100 million pounds of clothes and shoes – helping save 700 billion gallons of clean water.

When reading about the new styles being introduced this week, consider the following: fill a bag with unwanted clothes (cheap or expensive). Say it weighs about 10 pounds. By donating this 10 pound bag to Planet Aid, 7,000 gallons of water is saved – not to mention the emission of greenhouse gases and the landfill space.

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