Culture

“Highway fitting” your clothes is hurting the planet

Everybody likes the convenience of a free return policy. But what consumers do privately in their home closets — say, ordering two sizes of jeans and returning the one that doesn’t fit — has a growing global impact. A recent U.K. survey concluded that more than 40 percent of clothing bought online is returned. A group called Fashion Revolution wants to do something about this.

“Instead of the two-way drive of a delivery van bringing a package to you, it now has to drive back to your house to return it to the retailer,” said Chloé Mikolajczak, country coordinator of Fashion Revolution Belgium. “It literally doubles the amount of kilometers a truck is on the road, because you didn’t like what you ordered. On a global scale, this has a massive impact on the environment and traffic.”

Fashion Revolution is a U.K.-based nonprofit whose mission is to radically change the way the fashion industry sources, produces and consumes clothing, as well as to make sure clothes are made in a safe and fair way.

Related: 5 ways to become a responsible fashion consumer this year

“Highway Fitting,” Fashion Revolution’s new campaign, spreads the message about the environmental impact of misusing the free return policy many clothing brands offer. Jeroen Willekens directed the campaign’s stylish video, which shows young women posing for photos in their new clothes, tags still attached. At the end of the video, produced by Fledge.tv, they throw the clothes on a truck to be shipped back to the retailer.

Fashion Revolution believes that popular Instagram hashtags, such as #ootd (#outfitoftheday), help drive this desire to constantly model something new. Nearly 20 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds acknowledge they’ve worn outfits a single time, so they could post pictures on social media.

woman near a rack of clothes

The fashion industry is one of the world’s largest polluters and water consumers. Treating and dying textiles accounts for 20 percent of global industrial water pollution. But increased consumer awareness can reduce the adverse effects of fashion.

Fashion Revolution recommends four ways to minimize your impact:

  • Reduce consumption by choosing carefully and buying less.
  • If your desired outfit is only available online, do extra research and read reviews to get a feel for the brand’s sizing.
  • Group your deliveries if possible, rather than have each item sent separately.
  • Resist returns. If the item doesn’t fit, consider giving it to a friend.

+ Highway Fitting

Images via Fledge and Fashion Revolution




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