You’d Be Shocked To Know The Fate Of Unsold H&M And Zara Clothes

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“Our house is on fire”, these were Greta Thunberg’s words, in response to the trend #2019in5words. And I was shocked to see the replies to this tweet. Here is a glimpse of the troll army:

I mean, have people lost their minds? Or have they become so heartless, that they get pleasure in trolling kids? This was an eye-opener for me. It made me realise that people are ignorant towards climate change, global warming etc. They think that these problems are not real!

Why don’t they understand that almost all our activities are adversely affecting the environment? One way by which we are harming the environment is our clothes!

You will be shocked to know, that as per a research study published by Quantis, in 2018, the fashion industry produced almost 8% of manmade CO2 emissions – more than aviation and shipping combined. This means that there is definitely something wrong with this industry. As we are all aware, there cannot be supply without demand. So, it is not only the manufacturers’ fault but, we, the consumers, are equally responsible. Ergo, it is very important for us to look at two things which are creating havoc in the environment:

Fast Fashion

According to Merriam-Webster, it means –  “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions, that emphasises making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”

So, the fashion industries produce clothes for the latest trend in bulk and sell them at an affordable price. After that, to meet the new trends, they again start producing new clothes, while the previous stock doesn’t even get consumed completely, which leads to wastage. And then, to clear their stock, they resort to giving heavy discounts. When we try to ignore it, they constantly send us messages, emails etc. We often think, “Let’s just see, we will not buy anything”. And, boom! We find ourselves trapped in their plan. We end up buying piles of clothes!

The fashion industry made 100 billion pieces of clothing for 7 billion people in 2015! I know this is obvious, but I want to remind everyone, that clothes are a necessity but should not become our greed. Brands like H&M, Zara, Gap etc., are the front runners of fast fashion. My friends rush to H&M or Gap stores whenever there is a sale, come back with piles of clothes and say that – “Tu bhi ja, 400-500 mei jacket mil raha hai” (you should also go. Jacket are available for RS. 400-500.) How can one not go after hearing this?!

You will be surprised to know that H&M burns several tonnes of unsold clothes every year! A report by the New York Times revealed that their unsold clothes valued $4.3 billion; many of which were burnt.

Now take a deep breath and try to understand, that firstly, this massive production is already creating a lot of problems for the environment. I will elaborate this statement with some “fun facts” which were compiled by Science Friday.
Designed by Andrea Corona

Designed by Andrea Corona

Apart from that, think about the trees that were cut, dyes which went into the water bodies, industrial wastes, and emissions during transportation etc. But, this doesn’t satisfy the fashion houses, so they are creating additional problems by burning them.

As per a report by Fast Company, every piece that ends up being burned produces greenhouse gases. Incinerating clothes releases 2,988 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, which is even more than burning coal (2,249 pounds per megawatt-hour) and natural gas (1,135 pounds per megawatt-hour). Here, I may sound like Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory but that’s fine by me!

This was the case with clothes which are burned by the industries, but what about the clothes which are discarded by us? They clog the oceans and landfills! According to close the loop, the non-biodegradable fabric can “bless” the landfills for up to 200 years! A report by Ellen MacArthur Foundation claimed that, in the United States alone, 21 billion pounds of textiles are sent into landfills every single year!

A lot of brands are trying to take an environment-friendly approach to production. For example, Adidas is eliminating virgin plastic from its supply chain. Levis is reducing water waste. Nike is moving to 100% renewable energy. These are great efforts but these are not sufficient. The major problem, today, lies with the quantity produced.

The Ignorant Attitude Of Celebrities

Guys, I will name and shame them here, because they deserve it. Do you remember that line from the song ‘Mercy on Me’ by Badshah – “Body teri hotter than a chinchilla fur?” Not to forget, he even wore fur in that song! Or do you guys remember that episode in friends, where phoebe wants to burn the fur coat and Rachel says – “It is a crime against fashion”!

A lot of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga etc. wear fur without any guilt. Apart from it being cruel to animals, it is a problem for the environment as well. So, people invented the concept of faux fur, which is even more dangerous for the environment!

Why do celebrities forget that people follow everything they do? The way they talk, the way they walk, the way they dress and every other thing is copied by people and, eventually becomes a trend. And, let’s not even bring up the leather products!

Ideally, a piece of clothing should be worn at least 30 times. But, celebrities and people from the upper class don’t seem to care! They have to buy a new piece of clothing for every other event. Why don’t they try to normalise repeating of clothes? Instead, they try to glorify their 400-500 pair of shoes or 1000 dresses!

All limits are crossed when they buy suits or pantsuits of the same colour again and again. It all looks the same; why can’t they repeat it? I have to give credit to celebrities like Anushka Sharma, Virat Kohli, Deepika Padukone etc., who repeat clothes. Media and fashion bloggers are also to be blamed because they exaggerate or even start shaming celebrities when they wear the same thing more than once.

Celebrities need to understand that it’s not about being rich or poor, or who can afford clothes, or who cannot. It’s about having a rational mindset – that too many clothes are not going to help the world in any way! It creates a problem for those who can’t afford many clothes. People laugh at them for frequently repeating clothes.

All I am saying is that we should try to buy fewer clothes; instead of throwing away clothes, we should donate them, repeat them, or share clothes with our friends or cousins. Nobody is telling you to leave everything, and start meditating in the Himalayas! But all we want, from everyone, is to have compassion towards the environment. Is it too much to ask for?

Act before it’s too late guys!

This post has been written by a YKA Climate Correspondent as part of #WhyOnEarth. Join the conversation by adding a post here.
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