Unloved clothing is being dumped in landfills – there’s just too much of it.
Retailer H&M is the newest tenant at Christchurch’s Westfield Riccarton mall, but not everyone is happy.
Climate change activist Amelia Dewhurst and environmentalist Mia Sutherland responded by calling on people to boycott and build awareness of fast fashion. The model cycles through trends quickly in order to maximise profit and minimise cost.
An H&M spokesperson said the company was excited to be able to offer a second shop for Christchurch customers.
“The response to our first store has been fantastic, and we are now able to meet the demand for a suburban location with a new family-focused store at Westfield Riccarton,” the spokesperson said.
The new H&M Westfield Riccarton store is scheduled to open on Thursday.
Eight hundreds early-bird shoppers were rewarded with “high fashion at better prices” when the doors to Christchurch’s newest large-scale fashion store opened in September 2017.
Dewhurst said companies like H&M were clever in making it sound like they contribute to a better environment, without doing anything.
“They’re marketing it towards young people and young people actually really care about the environment. It’s in any brands interest to capitalise on that value which I understand,” she said.
“They promote products that promote friendly environment but the products themselves and the process is not. It’s not a case of buying stuff from a certain place makes you green.”
She said people could take practical steps themselves to improving the environment.
“Things people can really do is recycle clothes and fix them. I know everyone doesn’t have the time and means for these things, but if the button falls off your shirt, how hard is it really to stitch back? If you don’t have time, avoid cheap garments and microplastics that fall apart when they’re washed.”
A study by University of Canterbury PhD student Phil Clunies-Ross in May 2016 found high levels of microplastics on our coast. According to the study, microplastics are dangerous for sea life creatures who can mistake the tiny pieces of plastic for food. This can disturb their eating patterns, damage their gut and cell formation.
Microplastics take years, often decades to break down and are a bi-product of cheaply made clothes. Microplastics make it into our waste systems when clothes are washed.
Sutherland is a young environmentalist who helped organise the Schools Strike 4 Climate in Christchurch earlier this year. She said throwaway fashion was an issue that could be solved by consumer boycotting and awareness.
“Throwaway fashion has no place on our planet, let alone in New Zealand, which is privileged enough to have the opportunity to be able to buy ethical and sustainable clothing,” she said.
“H&M is trying to take some steps toward sustainability, which is great, but ultimately the best thing they can do is move away from the fast fashion model.”
FAST FASHION FACTS
– The average consumer bought 60 per cent more clothes in 2014 than in 2000, but kept each garment for half as long.
– Making a pair of jeans produces as much greenhouse gases as driving a car more than 120 kilometres.
– It takes 2700 litres of water to make one cotton shirt, enough to meet the average person’s drinking needs for two-and-a-half years.
– Discarded clothing made up of non-biodegradeable fabrics can sit in landfills for up to 200 years.