Textile waste

Channelnewsasia published a very informative documentary about textile waste in Singapore, as part of their Trash Trail series.

Here are a few key points that were mentioned:

  • According to a survey, Singaporeans buy 34 pieces of clothes, bags, shoes on average in a year
  • And throw out 27 items from their wardrobe
  • Every 5 mins, roughly 1 tonne (1000 kg!!!!) of textile waste is discarded
  • 92% is incinerated as there is no textile recycling plants here

Those are some really staggering statistics.

What about giving it to charity?

Well the fact is, charities here receive more clothes than they can give to the needy.

Some of the clothes do end up in second hand markets overseas but having said that, it is still a pretty small percentage, considering that 92% ends up being incinerated.

Fast fashion is an extremely lucrative industry. Brands like Uniqlo, Zara, H&M can be found proliferating in many countries. With designs and trends that are ever changing every season, consumers flock to stores to stock up on the latest pieces and designs. For many of us, wardrobe space is limited. We need to clear space to fit more. And what happens to those that are cleared? We sell them to the rag and bone man, perhaps try to donate to charity or pass it down to others, or perhaps try to resell it online.

Perhaps the most inherent thing that we need to do, is to ask ourselves if we really do need to purchase so much? A tonne discarded every 5 minutes? And that’s just Singapore. Imagine how much that would be if you try to add them up globally?

Does that mean that we should not shop for new clothes? Personally, I have set a out a shopping ban for myself and Ally at the beginning of the year, and Dave has also implemented one for himself last year. 6 months on, we didn’t find that we were particularly lacking. Granted that I might be rotating those few classic pieces, but that’s the whole point isn’t it?

Sometimes, having a full wardrobe does not indicate that you will wear everything. Some perhaps once or twice, some with the tag still intact.

Perhaps what we should do is to be more mindful in our comsumption process. Be mindful of the statistics that were shared, be mindful of the environment, be mindful of our carbon footprint. Everytime before you make a purchase, think about that, and perhaps that will significantly cut down the number of things that you will buy.

And on the bright side, you get to save money as well!

2 thoughts on “Textile waste

  1. Hmm, I am actually quite guilty of this. Everytime Uniqlo runs a limited sale for some berms, t-shirts or underwear, I find myself buying something.

    I realise I am hoarding quite a lot of clothes and perhaps I should impose a clothing ban just like you.


    • I totally understand. We were like that as well. Like you said, especially during the “sale” period, we just ended up buying more. I guess ultimately, it’s just more conscious consumption 🙂


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