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European Commission calls for Environmental Changes in Fashion

The European strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles was announced this year to build the European Green Deal. How many clothes are we not using anymore, and could donate or recycle to increase their number of wears? Statistics show that up to 50% of clothes in people's wardrobes have not been used for at least a year, and every year about 30% of the clothes produced are never sold. Once discarded, over half the garments are not recycled, instead ending up in mixed household waste and are subsequently sent to incinerators or landfill, as stated by the EU Commission.

The fashion industry must entice consumers to re-use clothing, something which has many benefits. However, the EU Commission states that ‘the trends of using garments for ever shorter periods before throwing them away contribute the most to unsustainable patterns of overproduction and overconsumption’.

More and more recycling pathways are becoming available in the modern world. However, the average woman’s wardrobe has increased, more so than the average man’s. Mirroring the trend of sales promotions could thus be a problem. Nowadays, the challenge is to base our purchases on sustainable choices, avoiding the addiction of clothing consumption.

Progressively, the textile ecosystem is reinventing itself, as products are being made under more sustainable policies and systems. As we have been more aware of chemicals, water shortages, and pesticides, used at higher levels in production, many are reducing their consumption in order to support the “green print” clothes revolution. ‘Green print’ refers to the conversation surrounding sustainability, environmental consciousness, and fashion.

Indeed, it is notable that the decomposition of textiles also affects the environment: many of them made of synthetic materials, produces great greenhouse gas emissions. Many parties within the fashion industry are thus starting to produce garments under more sustainable processes, increasing awareness of their environmental impact, and aiming to support the circular industry.

The EU is aiming to empower consumers with the “Right to Repair” movement. Some of their suggestions for consumers include:

  1. Sell clothing you no longer wear on second-hand market or apps
  2. Give clothing to charity, community projects and non-governmental organizations will collect it, and this also allows those on lower incomes to be able to afford these clothes
  3. Gift these clothes a friend
  4. Try to repair them, allowing us to maintain our clothes long
  5. If they must be disposed of, put them in the correct recycling bin.

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