New clothes may look great at first but one of the worst things about them is the amount of waste that they create in the end. On average, we only wear items 7 to 10 times before they’re discarded. The sad consequence of this is that our new clothes end up getting sent to landfill at lightning speed.
The figures on this are astounding: around 92 million tonnes of textile waste is created every year, and that figure is projected to increase to 130 million tonnes by 2030. When you consider that a lot of this throwaway fashion isn’t biodegradable and, even when it is, isn’t actually disposed of in a biodegradable way, that’s a massive mountain of problematic waste.
So, while sustainable fashion is on the rise, and is clearly a better way of doing things, it’s not quite the answer to the problem of that enormous, stubborn pile of fabric. Still, there are sustainable solutions and that’s where recycled fashion comes in. It’s a growing area because it’s an appealing midpoint between an item that’s second-hand and new. And you can see that more and more people are searching for recycled clothes over time.
Yet, while there’s movement it’s still early days for textile recycling. At the moment, less than 1% of textile waste is recycled, while 70% of European textile waste being suitable for recycling into new clothing. That is, once certain recycling technologies are fully mature - currently, they're on the brink of commercialization. But if more people and brands get involved, then that mountain of thrown-away stuff is going to start diminishing.
The different types of recycled fashion
‘Recycled’ is a general term but when it comes to fashion, there are a few different types of recycled clothing. Here are three of the main categories.
Pre-consumer: making ‘new’ garments from leftover fabrics.
Post-consumer: processing thrown away clothes to make new fabrics and items.
Trashion: upcycling discarded items into new fashion, creatively, by hand.
You might be wondering how the first two categories differ. Well, the key difference is that pre-consumer recycling products are made from products that never actually made it to be worn. Post-consumer recycling products are made from items that have been worn. Simple.
Some issues around recycled clothing
Recycled clothing is better for the planet because it reduces waste by making something worthy out of it. This is clear but while that’s the top-line, there are a few caveats.
Firstly, sustainability is also about longevity. And recycled clothing, by virtue of being recycled, sometimes doesn’t last as long as higher-quality new items. To balance things out, either innovative processes to preserve quality must be used or recycled materials can be blended with new sustainable fabrics for the best of both worlds.
Another note is to be wary of recycled polyester clothing. It might sound sustainable on paper but recycled polyester is just as bad for leaking microplastics into the oceans as virgin polyester. With synthetics, recycling might be better but it still doesn’t mean good.
Recycled Fashion Infographic
If you want the tl;dr version, here's why we need more of recycled fashion...
Recycled clothing at POMP
At POMP, we create sustainable clothing with world-class sustainability behind it, which includes a recycled range. Items like our remill T-shirts for women and men are made from 50% post-consumer recycled cotton and 50% GOTS-certified organic cotton. And since we only use natural fabrics, there’s no issue with those malicious little microfabrics!
This way, we combine recycled materials with sustainable new fabrics to create an exceptionally sustainable item overall, with extra longevity. After all, there’s no point buying a recycled item if it doesn’t last a long time and needs to be thrown away after a few wears! The last thing we need is more clothes going to mountainous landfill sites.
Find out more about the sustainability of the GOTS-certified organic cotton we use here.
Some other brand examples
That’s POMP but here are another couple of fine examples. By the way, we think both of the below could look classy in combination with our recycled T-shirts.
SAYE - recycled sneakers.
SAYE is a recycled sneaker brand born in Barcelona and, like POMP, they aim to make the fashion industry more environmentally conscious. Their stylish sneakers use recycled materials for different parts of their shoes, like the insoles, outsoles, and linings. They also come in a recycled box! The end result looks spot on - just on the right side of retro.
Watson & Wolfe - recycled wallets and accessories.
Made with premium quality and 100% vegan materials, Watson & Wolfe uses low-impact, sustainable alternatives like recycled post-consumer plastic bottles to create interior linings in many of their products. This card holder & belt is a great matching set that can complement your outfit - and the wallet’s interior woven lining is made with 100% recycled plastic bottles!
Circular initiatives at POMP
With so much textile waste around, recycling can be impactful in the fashion industry and it’s a growing movement. The next few years will surely see more recycled fashion brands appearing and making new clothes from thrown-away stuff, in pioneering ways.
Yet, recycling should also be part of a circular approach that is complemented by other sustainable production methods. That’s the way we do things at POMP. All of our clothes are:
Made to order with a zero-waste approach
Delivered in plastic-free packing
Tailored from natural and organic fabrics
No use of synthetic fabrics like polyester
Designed to be easily recyclable
Crafted in a factory powered with renewable energy.
Find out more about POMP’s sustainability here.