Australia’s fashion community is prospering amid a new environmentally-conscious movement to reduce the volume of “fast fashion” being sent to landfill.
Fast fashion is a term used to describe inexpensive, mass-produced designs which move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet frequently changing trends.
According to the ABC’s 2017 War on Waste program, 6000kg of clothing is sent to landfill every 10 minutes in Australia.
Salvation Army eco-stylist Faye De Lanty said changing consumers’ mindsets was vital to implementing sustainable change for the planet.
“We can’t keep consuming at the level we are,” Ms De Lanty said.
“It’s not only harmful to the natural world but it’s also affecting us as individuals too.”
Ms De Lanty owns sustainable fashion business Fashion Hound.
“(Fast fashion) creates an unquenchable thirst for the fast and disposable,” she said.
“Convenience culture can definitely be a curse causing a feeling of never enough.
“Slow fashion reconnects us back to our clothes, who made them, where they are from and what they stand for.”
Ms De Lanty said thrifting could be just as fashionable as it sustainable.
“You never know what gems are waiting for you and the coolest bit is your fashion dollar has the power to create change, empower local community and support the mission of a very worthy cause,” she said.
Greenpeace’s Timeout for Fashion 2015 report said as much as 95 per cent of garments thrown out with domestic waste could be re-worn, reused or recycled, depending on the state of the textile.
National Association for Charitable Recycling Organisations chief executive Omer Sokar said the convenience mentality was the reason for consumers being blind to the environmental effects of fast fashion.
“People are not being conscious about their choices,” he said.
“One of the problems is the Instagram photo and dump mentality.
“Ultimately it causes charities to spend $13 million on waste management.
“That’s $13 million that could be going to social welfare programs to helping the most disadvantaged.
“It’s a lot of money to waste on waste.”
The Global Fashion Agenda 2017 report said textile waste would increase by 60 per cent between 2015 and 2030, with an additional 57 million tonnes of waste generated a year.
Mr Soker said charitable organisations implemented recycling programs to divert more than 500 tonnes of textiles from landfill a year.
He said the poor quality of fast fashion textile restricted the reuse and recycling of garments, contributing to the 60,000 tonnes of waste charities sent to landfill.
Perth based op-shopper Louise Rowe, who has built a cult following on her social media page Opshock, has bought only second-hand clothing and accessories since January 2017 as her way to be sustainable to the planet.
Mrs Rowe said researching where your clothes were made was the most important tip to be an ethically sustainable buyer.
“Stop and think about the impact it is having and maybe some changes to make that will reduce the negative impact fast fashion is having on the world,” she said.
Mr Soker said providing feedback to the Federal Governments 2020 National Waste Policy was a positive start, but government funding was vital to creating a sustainable solution to landfill.
“There is a need for Federal Government to really get involved, and they are only just coming to the table now,” he said.
“All the talk in the world isn’t any use without some dollars behind it.”