Why making clothes from plastic bottles is a false solution
Unveiling the latest trends in greenwashing in the fast fashion industry
We’ve teamed up with our friends at Changing Markets Foundation to unveil the latest greenwashing practices in fashion. The BRAND NEW video lifts the lid on greenwashing in the fashion industry and reveals why creating clothing from plastic bottles is a BAD idea.
The fashion industry and its prevailing fast-fashion business model rely heavily on the use of cheap synthetic fibres, which are produced from fossil fuels, such as oil and gas. This hard hitting new film from Changing Markets busts the myths behind the so called ‘sustainable’ practice of recycling plastic bottles into polyester clothes. Since the early 2000s, fashion production has doubled – as has the use of polyester, which is now found in over half of all textiles.
The BRAND NEW video comes off the back of the ground-breaking report ‘Synthetics Anonymous Fashion brands’ addiction to fossil fuels’. The report investigated the behaviour of some of the biggest fashion brands and retailers regarding their use of synthetic fibres and transparency about doing so. Synthetic fibres represent over two-thirds (69%) of all materials used in textiles, which is expected to reach nearly three-quarters by 2030.
5 reasons why turning plastic bottles into clothing is NOT a good look
Once turned into clothing the plastic CANNOT be recycled further and will instead be thrown away. This means clothes are on a one-way route to landfill, incineration, or being dumped in nature. One garbage truck PER SECOND ends up in landfill or is dumped in nature.
Turning plastic bottles into clothes removes them from circular recycling loops where they can be made into new bottles again. Plastic bottles can be collected to be recycled multiple times, reducing the amount of virgin plastic needed, or to be refilled which helps to cut reliance on single-use plastic.
Recycled plastic going into synthetics does NOTHING to help stop the wider problem of microplastics. Billions of tiny plastic particles that shed from clothing during manufacturing, wearing and washing still end up polluting the ocean and our bodies through the air we breathe and the food and drink we consume. Instead of greenwashing recycled synthetics and ignoring microplastics, they should be instead reducing reliance on synthetic fibres at source.
Brands token use of recycled synthetics is just a drop in a very polluted ocean compared to the industry’s reliance on virgin plastics. Production of these fibres, derived from oil and gas, has exponentially increased fibres over the last 20 years, and shows no signs of slowing. Use of recycled synthetics distracts consumers from the deeper problem of fashion brands’ entrenched reliance on fossil fuels – production of which uses as much oil per year as the whole of Spain and produces as much emissions as 180 coal-fired power stations.
Making fashion from plastic bottles is just another greenwashing tactic by brands to encourage people to buy more of what they don’t need and the planet can’t afford.
Tiny plastics, BIG problem
Despite the known damage they cause to human and environmental health – including recent research which has found microplastics in placentas, stools and even able to cross the blood-brain barrier – the report showed the vast majority of brands were found to be asleep at the wheel when it comes to microplastics, delaying meaningful action by citing uncertainty and calling for even more research. By pushing recycling of bottles into fibre, brands may even be worsening microfibre release by fragmenting larger plastics into synthetic fibre which can leak more easily into the environment.
Swap don’t shop
A study by Fashion United found that people only wear 50% of the clothes they own. So not only do we buy a huge amount of clothes, most of which are made from plastic, we don’t even wear them when they’re in our wardrobe! By wearing what we already have, and swapping or sharing clothes instead of buying new, you can help keep new plastic out of your wardrobe and help reduce the demand for fast fashion.