CAPE TOWN – “We don’t have enough resources to keep feeding this monster”, the stark words of warning about the new clothing industry from Maria Chenoweth, chief executive of Traid, a UK charity working to stop clothes being thrown away.
Chenoweth says the average lifetime for a garment in Britain is just 2.2 years and McKinsey’s State of Fashion report concluded that more than half of fast-fashion items are thrown away in less than a year. This trend is exacerbated by, what’s described by a British MP as, “the Instagram look and chuck mentality”.
One estimate is that 11 million clothing items a week in the UK go to landfill – or 300 000 tons a year.
The equivalent South African statistics are hard to track but the move towards disposable fashion here has been just as marked, especially with the relentless rise of cut-price chains like Mr Price and H&M.
And a recent Gumtree SA survey showed 65 percent of respondents owning 10 or more items of clothing which they never used.