Second-Hand Clothes Recycling and Fashion Sustainability

Second-Hand Clothes Recycling and Fashion Sustainability

Due to a fast growing global economy, the world today faces major environmental challenges related to overproduction and waste. The fast fashion industry plays a very crucial role in this. It contributes to huge amounts of waste that lead to various environmental and social problems worldwide, some of which are already dramatic in the industry’s production chains. In recent years, awareness of the seriousness of the situation has increased worldwide. As a result, NGOs are putting more pressure on governments and companies to promote sustainability and reduce waste. Various players in the fashion industry are increasingly paying attention to sustainability in fashion along the value chains.The question generally arises as to how companies can have a positive impact on the environment and serve the common good at the same time. Second-hand clothes recycling is one of the most effective ways to tackle some of these problems.

Fast Fashion vs Slow Fashion

Did you know that fast fashion is the second biggest polluter in the world? Only the oil industry is more harmful to our environment. Fast fashion is responsible for 1.2 trillion tonnes of carbon emissions worldwide, which means the sector produces more carbon emissions than air travel and shipping combined. Fast fashion is also responsible for 20% of the world’s wastewater production. Every year, 93 million cubic meters of water are used for production. This amount can supply around 5 million people per year, which could benefit countries suffering from water scarcity and on the brink of “Day Zero”. But not only the ecological but also the social factor should be considered here. What is sold cheaply must of course also be produced cheaply somewhere. Mostly this happens in China, Bangladesh and other Southeast Asian countries, where people work under the worst conditions. Child labour, wages far below the minimum wage, forced overtime, no social security and the violation of human rights are unfortunately still a reality!

We need to scrutinize fashion more consciously and pay more attention to sustainability in production. Many brands are getting into the sustainable fashion industry and are committed to fair trade.They are committed on a social level to provide more humane conditions for people and reduce poverty levels as much as possible. From an ecological point of view, some companies, for example, have a tree planted for every item of clothing purchased, in order to at least partially offset their negative climate footprint. The focus is explicitly on rainforests that continue to make way for mostly conventionally managed cotton fields, which reduces the overall biodiversity to a critical level. This can indeed also apply to the production of organic cotton, but at least fewer pollutants are released and the environment suffers less damage than with conventional farming.

In recent years, the concept of sustainability in fashion has fortunately gained momentum. In the context of the circular economy, the recycling of old clothes, for example, can play an important role in reducing the amount of waste produced by the textile and fashion industry. However, of greater importance according to the hierarchy of waste management is always reducing waste, for example by not overproducing in the first place, or simply reusing old clothes. Fortunately the latter is increasingly reflected in the second-hand trend. Producing clothes that are as durable as possible promotes this trend. The DIY (remanufacture) trend can also be promoted, for example, through repair tutorials. 

Reusability of Textiles: Old Clothes and Second-Hand Clothes Recycling

Recycling of clothing is understood to mean the reuse of recyclable materials from items of clothing that have already been worn. These are sorted by color after being handed in at the shop or in certain containers, broken down into the individual fibers and spun into new yarn, which is then used to make new garments. However, even the so-called recycling processes are unfortunately often not entirely sustainable. Not only worn clothes from containers etc. end up in these recycling processes, but sometimes also brand new goods that come from overproduction or returns from fast-moving collections. This happens despite a German law about goods recycling, which states that it is forbidden to destroy or recycle unused goods in Germany. The products are divided into A, B and C goods. Mostly only the goods without any or only slight damage (A- & B-goods) get the chance for a second life, as in the case of sales in second-hand shops, new yarn production or the shredding process. The majority (C-goods) are nevertheless sent to incinerators and destroyed. This method is unfortunately a widespread solution to “recycle” discarded clothes. These are shipped to Romania, Poland, etc. to be sold as fuel, where again quite a few chemicals are released into nature.

There are numerous initiatives that aim to make clothing and fashion products or their components reusable. In addition, well-known fashion brands are increasingly adopting the concept of sustainable fashion as part of their environmental responsibility. Selling old clothes and used garments at cheaper prices ideally reduces textile production and thus makes the fashion industry more sustainable by counteracting overproduction. An example of this is the company F&P Stock Solution and its solutions for recycling clothing as its core business. On the company’s catalog page you can find various offers for wholesale of old clothes at reasonable prices.

Sustainable Fulfillment with MOODJA

As a 3PL fulfillment service provider, MOODJA is situated as a key well-connected link at the end of our customers’ long supply chains. Here we play a special role, because the final fulfillment often shows whether and how sustainably the upstream actors acted in the overall process and which ethical values can be communicated to the end consumers in a justified way. 

At MOODJA we are committed to actively promote sustainability in our spheres of influence. Sustainability is part of our core business strategy. In addition, we implement fair working conditions and strive for an overall climate-neutral fulfillment. Our first sustainability report is currently in development. Operationally, we are happy to process our customers’ returns and prepare the returned goods in such a way that they can be resold as A-grade goods if possible. From a sustainability perspective, the return rate should of course be kept as low as possible in order to save additional climate-relevant resources. Keeping general transport volumes in check should be briefly mentioned here. 

As the demand for fair brands and products is continuously increasing, our holistic endeavor is to be as sustainable a link as possible in the value chains of our customers and to offer sustainable high quality customized e-commerce fulfillment for fashion and lifestyle brands. It is essential to work together in a partnership. Are you ready to make a positive impact as a fashion brand? Then join us on the transformative path to a more sustainable fashion and logistics industry!

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