Recycling clothes is crucial for sustainability

By 2050, three times more natural resources will be needed to meet consumer demand

The establishment of a sustainable and circular fashion industry, as well as the introduction of the habit of recycling and upcycling, are necessary to prevent the pollution created by fast fashion.

Experts said the fashion industry has fallen into the trap of the fast fashion model, which leads to higher sales but comes at an ecological cost.

To save the world from the damage caused by fast fashion, it is high time to take the right initiatives, they also said.

As the second largest producer of RMG, Bangladesh can play a vital role in recycling pre-consumer and industrial textile waste, the experts added.

Environmental cost of the fashion industry

According to recent data released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the fabric from which clothing is made consumes a lot of natural energy, space and water.

It takes about 700 gallons of water to produce a cotton shirt, which is enough for a person to drink at least eight cups a day for three and a half years.

This is because the shirt is made from a very water intensive plant – cotton.

About 20% of the world’s water is consumed by the fashion industry, the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply, the WEF said.

In addition, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions.

Natural and unnatural energy is also used to produce tissue.

After a few months of wearing, these clothes are quickly thrown away which contributes to environmental pollution in many ways by ending up in landfills, air pollution with transport, soil pollution, pollution of water with tinctures etc.

What about our used clothes?

According to the WEF, 85% of used clothing goes to landfill each year, which either burns or contributes to landfill.

Another 12% of used clothing is used for downcycling, such as making cleaning clothes to clean utensils, furniture, glass or the floor. And only 1% is recycled, new clothes are made by transforming them.

When new clothes are picked up from stores, buyers buy them, but after a few months it is found that a number of buyers are using these clothes. As a result, it is considered obsolete clothing, thus increasing the waste of clothing.


Also read – We need to talk about unsold clothes


The solution

According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), greenhouse gas and waste emissions from the fashion industry will increase by 60% by 2030.

By 2050, it will take three times as many natural resources to meet consumer demand.

Sustainable fashion is one of the solutions to reduce this negative impact of fast fashion.

Bangladesh is now moving towards the sustainable fashion industry. Many recycled production factories are being set up in the country.

Denim Expert Ltd, based in Chittagong, is one of those factories that produces a large number of products through recycling.

Mohiuddin Rubel, director of the company and also a director of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said they produced 95% sustainable denim using at least 20% recycled cotton post-consumed.

“To boost the use of sustainable fabrics, we urge brands to use hemp, bamboo, linen, lyocell and ECOT400 fiber,” he added.

In addition, to avoid industrial pollution, they also use alternative chemicals to potassium permanganate which are not harmful to the environment.

Garment exporters claim that synthetic fiber is the future of the export-oriented garment industry for its sustainability and environmental friendliness.

In addition, Bangladesh is home to 40 of the top 100 LEED certified green clothing factories and a total of 145.

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said that Bangladesh being a manufacturing country, pre-consumer and industrial pollution is more common there than post-consumer pollution from the fashion.

In this case, manufacturers can discuss with buyers higher prices for products made with recycled fabric, he added.


Also Read – Bangladesh Garment Industry Could Save $ 500 Million Per Year By Recycling Cotton


In addition, a lot of fake tissue is thrown that fills the tank, again burning also increases pollution. It is important to ensure their proper use, so that foreign investment can also be sought, said the research director of CPD.

Small initiative, big role

The uses of pre-consumed and post-consumed textiles are varied, and many initiatives can be taken. These small initiatives can play a big role.

About 15% to 20% of garment industry waste is pre-consumed such as fake fabrics, defective fabrics or fabric samples, fabric fibers, additional fabrics and more.

This type of waste can be used to make various things.

Bangladeshi entrepreneur Mamunur Rahman makes Ella Pad with these fake fabrics.

Initially, garment workers used their own handmade panties and towels during menstruation.

“Ella is a pioneer in circular fashion and already recognized worldwide as a best practice. Ella is successfully improving the image of Bangladesh garment internationally, ”said Mamunur Rahman.

He also said that Ella Pad is focusing on circular fashion to reduce emissions and save the environment. Ella guides clothing manufacturers to avoid waste and reduce pollution when designing products.

“To expand the use of Ella Pad, there are some political issues that need to be addressed. We must have a circular economy policy in the country and have a link with the large RMG factories and SMEs, ”he added.

“In addition, pre-consumer synthetic textile waste can be used to perform some kind of soundproofing application.

From a personal perspective, these small initiatives can be important regulators in saving the world.

With fast fashion, wardrobes are filling up with new clothes, but the world is becoming uninhabitable. In such a situation, an ordinary consumer can do a lot of things.

The lifespan of a garment must increase; a consumer has to wear a garment for a long time. The average lifespan of a garment is almost 3 years.

Also, as clothes get older, something new can be done that adds value to them.

Used clothing can be used to wipe down furniture, glasses and floors. A garment can also be transformed into another garment, ”he added.

The manufacture of Kantha is a common recycling in Bangladesh. It can be launched commercially across the country to reduce the rate of dumping of used clothing.

However, new business models of fashion, such as circular and decent consumption, must be adapted to meet the needs of consumers while conserving resources and protecting the environment.


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