Take Back Schemes
An investigation into clothing and fast fashion illuminates take back schemes. The fashion industry today is a giant wheel, spinning faster and faster, fueling our desire for more. But at what cost?
First, let’s look at our favorite polyester shirt, which might have started its life as fossil fuels. Over half of all textiles use synthetic fibers like polyester, made mostly from oil and gas. The growth of these synthetic fibers closely ties to the fast fashion industry. One cannot exist without the other.
Polyester, found in trendy fast fashion brands, contributes to skyrocketing production. This synthetic fiber, born from fossil fuels, has become a staple in our wardrobe. But its popularity has a hidden price. Our closets fill up with easily accessible and inexpensive clothes, and so do our landfills and oceans with non-biodegradable waste.
But we have allies in natural materials like hemp and bamboo. Unlike polyester, these fibers grow from the earth, not from oil wells.
Hemp, for instance, requires little water and grows without pesticides. It’s strong, durable, and biodegradable. Imagine a world where your favorite t-shirt returns to the soil when you’re done with it, nourishing the earth rather than polluting it.
Bamboo, on the other hand, is a rapidly renewable resource. It grows incredibly fast, absorbs more carbon dioxide than most trees, and produces more oxygen.
Real and Raw Take Back Schemes
Now, think about this: We often feel good when we donate our old clothes to take-back schemes. But do we know what really happens to them?
Between August 2022 and July 2023, an investigation followed 21 items from 10 fashion brands like H&M, Zara, and Nike. The findings are real and raw. Imagine this: You donate your favorite skirt, only to find out it’s been sent thousands of miles away to be discarded in a waste dump.
Here are the startling facts:
- 76% destroyed or lost: A pair of trousers donated to M&S got scrapped in a week. A pair of jogging trousers burned in a cement kiln.
- Shipped far away: A skirt from H&M ended up 24,800 kilometers away in Mali, dumped on waste ground.
- Only 5 items reused: Just around a quarter found a new life in resale shops in Europe.
But we can’t stop here: is it time for conscious actions? The new and shining fashion mustn’t overshadow the old and wasted one. Our closets, our world, and our future urge us to get back to nature.
It’s time to make a choice: The connection between fast fashion, fossil fuels, and take-back schemes isn’t just a fashion statement; it’s a call to action. Can we step up, take responsibility, and change our habits? It’s not just about the clothes we wear; it’s about the world that sustains us.
So here is a question: While the industry must become accountable, what about us aligning our values to sustain our planet? Maybe the only call of action is becoming aware of the choices we make. How “conscious” are we about fashion brands we support?
The choice between synthetic and natural fibers is more than a matter of style; it’s a choice about the kind of world we want to live in. By opting for eco-friendly choices like hemp and bamboo, we step towards a more generative future and an emerging healthy new world.
The illusion of charity in the fashion industry isn’t just a broken promise; it’s a betrayal of trust and a missed opportunity for real change. By making conscious choices, understanding the full cycle of our clothing, and supporting real solutions, we move away from a world where we ship our discarded toxic clothes around the globe.
In an emerging healthy new world, our clothes are a reflection of our values, not just our style. It starts with us, with the choices we make every day.