In the mid 2000’s throwaway fashion was being blamed for causing the growing mountains of textile waste throughout municipals around the world. As the new millennium dawned, clothing was rapidly becoming somehow disposable - overproduction created the pile it high, sell it cheap, mentality that pervaded every shopping mall. The huge abundance of fashion clothing at ridiculously low prices set a dangerous precedent giving rise to our wasteful habit of overconsumption. During this time researchers were highlighting the problems that throwaway fashion (clothing and footwear) was creating in landfills. But now, over a decade later Wasteless-Kiwi wonders has this devaluation permeated all textile products?
Textile products are now everywhere - from covering our bodies to populating our homes and workplaces. They are perpetually manufactured for newness and unfortunately in this throwaway society – are being treated like consumables: consumed in their very first short life from fibre through to disposal.
Why is this a problem? Billions of tonnes of non-biodegradable textile are accumulating in landfills – every year. It is accumulating! International studies indicate textile waste amounts to between 3 to 5% of total municipal waste in landfill (Fraser, 2018) every year. “While these may seem to be a small percentage of total wastes discarded, the quantity per person is far more alarming: 28kg per person per year in the UK, 65lbs or 29kg in USA, and 23kg in New Zealand. To put this further into perspective, 23kg of textile is equivalent to approximately 116 adult sized T-shirts (based on an average T-shirt weight of 200 grams) thrown to landfill by each and every New Zealand resident in 2010. In terms of total landfill that would be equivalent to 505 million T-shirts disposed in New Zealand annually, within a total population size of less than 5 million” (Fraser, 2018). At that rate and analogy, 505 million T-shirts accumulating for 10 years would equate to over 5 billion T-shirts! That’s a serious volume of textile buried in our landfills around the country…
And if that’s not disturbing enough, more than 60% of fabric fibres are now synthetic. And synthetic fibres take hundreds of years to decay and it’s accumulating in our landfills!