In the words of American singer-songwriter Edwin Starr, absolutely nothing! It’s incredibly sad to see the crisis that has been unfolding in Ukraine over the past month or so. We have seen a lot of volatility in equity markets since the start of February, with Oil & Gas and Mining the only asset class performing well – two sectors where the Climate Assets Fund doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have any exposure to.
Shedding light on clothing waste
The war has also, for me, shed light on an issue that doesn’t get as much visibility as it should. My local church started collecting coats and jackets for the people of Ukraine but had to quickly stop accepting donations because they had too many clothes. The need for other essentials is more important, as Ukrainians don’t need more clothes. When I walked past the church on the weekend, I still saw boxes of clothes outside with nowhere to go. The thought that many of these clothes would end up in land fill is horrible and highlighted to me the environmental impact of the clothing industry.
Clothing is the fastest growing category of waste, with over 300,000 tonnes of clothes ending up in landfill every year in Britain alone. The rise of fast fashion has meaningfully contributed to this waste, as companies produce cheap clothes with the aim of replicating recent catwalk trends. They overlay this with a notion of scarcity, causing unusually high demand for their items. There is also an enormous environmental impact from the company supply chains including chemical pollution and excessive use of water – trillions of tons every year.
Reduce, is probably best described as the Patagonia way. They’re leaders in sustainable clothing materials and have many environmental and social responsibility programs aimed at reducing the impact of their clothing production. The company even has a sustainability mantra of ‘buy once, buy well and mend your clothing’, offering repair services for customers who have torn their apparel.
Reuse or rent, certainly isn’t a new idea but it is starting to have a resurgence. Companies such as Hurr or Rent the Runway, admittedly clothing of which I am not the target market, are becoming more and more popular with the younger generation. A friend of mine even rented her wedding dress which is probably an unpopular suggestion to many other brides.
Finally, the last suggestion is to give your clothes another life and recycle them. Taking clothes to a Charity shop is the easiest way to do this. Not only are you helping reduced the carbon footprint of your clothes, but you are also doing your part to raise funds for a good cause such as Oxfam or Cancer Research.
We can do more, and we should.