‘FAST FASHION’:Rapid changes in fashion are fueling waste, with people owning an average of 75 garments, of which 20% are hardly worn at all
By Chen Wei-han / Staff reporter
Taiwanese throw away 5.2 million pieces of clothing and 5.4 million pairs of shoes every year, which, coupled with the fast turnaround in the fashion industry, has a dramatic impact on the environment, Greenpeace Taiwan said yesterday.
The environmental group yesterday revealed what it said was the first survey on clothing disposal behavior in Taiwan.
People aged 20 to 45 own an average of 75 garments, of which 20 percent are hardly worn at all, Greenpeace pollution prevention project manager Chen Ling-yao (陳玲瑤) said.
One out of two people interviewed said they have clothes in their closet that they have not worn in two months, Chen said.
“While 73 percent of interviewees said they recycle used clothes, it does not help reduce the amount of garments thrown away every year,” Chen said.
“Thanks to fast fashion, the amount of clothes discarded every year has increased. A similar investigation by Greenpeace in Hong Kong observed the same phenomenon,” she said.
Clothes used to be designed and made at a three-month intervals, but they are now being designed, manufactured and sold in a few weeks, which has led to environmental problems and labor issues, Chen said.
Showing photographs of a highly polluted river in Indonesia, the group said the textile industry has caused dramatic damage to the environment with chemical dyes and mass production.
However, not all people know about the adverse environmental impact and human right violations of the fashion industry.
Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they know that chemicals used in producing garments are harmful to the environment and the body, Greenpeace’s survey showed.
About 46 percent of respondents said they know about unsatisfactory work conditions at textile factories, and 38 percent said they are aware of the issue of child labor in the fashion industry.
The public is not well-informed about environmentally friendly clothing and products, as more than half of respondents had never purchased environmentally friendly clothing because they either did not know where to buy them or that such products exist.
In addition, 60 percent of respondents said they had never bought second-hand clothes, and 72 percent said they had never bought clothing made of recycled materials.
The organization called on the public to lead a more minimalist lifestyle by purchasing less and throwing fewer clothes away.
Consumers are advised to purchase “green” textile and fair trade products that cause minimal damage to the environment and worker’s welfare.
The survey was conducted in January, and 1,000 valid samples were collected, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points.