Setting aside the recent drop in clothing sales due to the current economic crisis, UK sales of apparel have been rising significantly for the last decade (see graph). With the increasing availability of ‘value’ clothing, and an inclination towards ‘fast fashion’, many consumers view clothing as highly disposable and the volume of textiles being discarded is significant.
Corporate clothing sales have also been increasing during this time, though not quite at the same rate. However, companies have been moving away from the more sustainable rental system (in which garments can have several service lives) to direct purchase of corporatewear. Rental sales have dropped by 27% since 1998, whilst mail order has risen by 29% over the same period .
This trends can be slowed, or even reversed, by attention to prolonged life of clothing and increased use of rental systems, adhering to the first level of the waste hierarchy, reduce. For garments that are produced, responsible end-of-life management is essential.
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