P100,000 ‘garbage’ bags and the invisible climate cost of fashion

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MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Three months ago, luxury fashion brand Balenciaga launched the Trash Pouch. This is the designer’s item that is inspired by the regular trash bag and looks just like it. Recently, this item was put up for sale for the brand’s fall collection.

The Trash Pouch was first unveiled as part of Balenciaga’s Winter 2022 collection. The fashion brand said:[t]The trash pouch is inspired by garbage bags.

However, fake trash bags are a far cry from the regular plastic bags that most people have in their homes. Apart from being a designer brand, this luxury trash bag is made from calfskin leather, he one of the most expensive leathers in the world.

A drawstring calfskin bag in the typical trash bag colors of black, blue and white recently hit stores with a price tag of US$1,790 (P99,309).

Expensive trash bags have recently become the subject of ridicule among people online, with many describing it as a “flashy product.”

Some online users have compared it to the regular trash bags sold in the market and used in many households, while others believe it is a “morbid social experiment” by luxury brands.

In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily in March, Balenciaga Creative Director Demna Gvaslia said:

But this wasn’t the first time Balenciaga released its own take on a familiar non-luxury brand item.

A model equipped with the controversial “trash pouch”. FROM BALENCIAGA.COM

In 2018, the brand made a name for itself with the US$2,000 Hippo Shopper bag. This is almost identical to the image of the iconic 99 cent blue IKEA shopping bag.

A year earlier, Filipinos teased the brand after it launched a bag similar to what netizens called the ‘Saco bag’ or ‘Divisoria bag’.

Vanessa Friedman, fashion director and chief fashion critic for The New York Times, said, “Part of his (Vasslia) ingenuity is in elevating the unseen everyday to luxury status and becoming a fashion beast.” It is to make fun of dignity,” he wrote.

Amid criticism and jokes about Balenciaga’s latest controversial fashion piece, the Winter 22 show was said to reflect the climate crisis and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

According to Friedman’s report, most of this season’s sets will be recycled to “offset our carbon footprint.”

However, as clothing fabric production continues to increase in many parts of the world, global carbon dioxide emissions and microplastics in the oceans are also increasing, further exacerbating the climate crisis.

environmental disaster

In recent years, the fashion and clothing industry has been known as one of the most polluting industries in the world.

According to data from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of the world’s total carbon emissions.

Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are one of the greenhouse gases (GHG) identified by the Kyoto Protocol that warm the Earth’s atmosphere.

The carbon footprint from the fashion industry was reportedly higher than all international flights and shipping combined.

At this pace, UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation said:youstry’s greenhouse gas emissions will soar more than 50% by 2030. ”

Graphics Ed Rousteing

Studies have shown that one pair of jeans requires 3,781 liters of water from cotton production to the final product reaching the store.

every year, According to UNEP, the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water. This is enough to meet the consumption needs of 5 million people. By 2030, the industry’s water consumption is expected to increase by 50%, he said.

The industry is not only the second largest consumer of water supply in the world, but also one of the contributors to marine pollution.

Washing clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year. This is equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles.

dangerous? Microfibers cannot be extracted from water and can spread throughout the food chain,” explains UNEP, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.

Many of these fibers are polyester, a plastic used in about 60% of clothing. The World Economic Forum explained: Producing polyester releases two to three times the carbon footprint of cotton, and polyester does not break down in the ocean. ”

Data showed that 16-35% of microplastics released into the ocean came from synthetic fibers. Every year, 200,000 to 500,000 tons of microplastics enter the global marine environment from textiles.

About 20% of the world’s wastewater is from textile dyeing and treatment.

‘fast fashion’

The fashion industry, boosted by the “fast fashion” trend, is also responsible for the vast amount of textile waste that is incinerated or dumped in landfills each year.

As defined by Merriam Webster, fast fashion is “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashion that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and inexpensively available to consumers.”

The appeal of clothes produced by fast fashion companies to consumers, apart from their low and affordable prices, is that most clothes are based on the styles presented on fashion week runways. many.

Experts also attribute the success of the fast fashion business model to the rise of social media and influencer culture.

The clothing industry produces over 80 billion pieces of clothing each year, driven by fast fashion and the growing demand for cheap but unsustainable clothing.

According to UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “If demographic and lifestyle patterns continue as they are, global apparel consumption will rise from 62 million tons in 2019 to 102 million tons in 10 years. ‘ said.

The biggest problem with fast fashion is that clothing is produced so quickly and in such large quantities that most of the clothing that consumers buy is usually thrown away after only a few wears.

Graphics Ed Rousteing

According to an Ethical Consumer article, the fashion industry generates approximately 92 million tons of textile waste each year, 87% of which is incinerated or landfilled.

Less than 1% of used clothing is recycled into new clothing. About US$500 billion is lost in value each year due to clothing that is barely worn, donated, recycled or thrown in landfills.

“Some of this waste consists of items that never even reached consumers: clothing lines that have become obsolete and destroyed instead of being sold,” Ethical Consumer reported.

Abandoned unwanted clothes PH

According to a 2017 YouGov Omnibus study, as more Filipinos buy new clothes each year and throw away the old ones, the negative effects of fast fashion (large amounts of disposable clothes that end up in landfills) are already affecting the Philippines. was shown to be reaching

According to statistics, 65% of Filipino adults have thrown away their clothes between 2016 and 2017, and nearly a quarter (24%) have thrown away 10 or more pieces of clothes during the same period.

Graphics Ed Rousteing

The data also highlighted the range of disposable clothing in the country. We found that nearly 3 in 10 of her users (29%) have thrown away an item of clothing after wearing it once. Nearly 1 (18%) of her 5 minutes said he threw away at least 3 clothes that were only worn once.

Baby boomers (ages 55+) and millennials (ages 16 to 34) are two generations where their unwanted clothes go in different ways.

YouGov researchers found that baby boomers (63%) are more likely to donate their clothes to charity than millennials (47%). They were also more likely than younger consumers to give old or unwanted clothes to friends and family (80% and 70%, respectively).

However, tech- and internet-savvy millennials (16%) were more likely than baby boomers (4%) to sell or resell second-hand clothes online.

Graphics Ed Rousteing

Unfortunately, across all generations, 1 in 8 Filipinos (12%) threw unwanted clothes in the trash, according to data.

Respondents to this survey cite a variety of reasons why clothes are thrown away.

The most common reason for discarding clothes was because they no longer fit (60%). Other reasons for throwing away clothes:

  • Corrupted: 46%
  • Failed: 34%
  • More than a few seasons old: 21%
  • Obsolete: 18%
  • Tired of wearing it: 14%
  • One-time purchase: 7%
  • Bought on impulse at a sale: 6%
  • I’ve seen someone I know or a friend wearing it: 5%
  • Reminds me of my ex-partner: 3%
  • Other: 4%
  • Don’t know: 1%
  • Never throw away clothes: 3%

“Fast fashion brands have worked hard to remove the unsustainable label. However, despite various recycling efforts by major labels, the study does not reveal how much clothing is sold each year in the Philippines. It highlights what has been discarded,” said Jake Gammon, director of YouGov’s US Omnibus and Field and Tab division.

“Looking to the future, there is a worrying trend among millennials: their tendency to dispose of clothing at a faster rate than older generations makes it difficult for those eager to tackle this problem head-on. It suggests that a tough battle awaits.”

What consumers can do

There are ways to achieve sustainability in the fashion industry. But for that to happen, everyone has to be involved: designers, makers, critics and consumers.

Graphics Ed Rousteing

According to the World Bank, consumers can help by being more conscious of what they buy. Following these small steps will help you:

  • Before you buy, ask first if the manufacturer uses sustainable standards to make their clothing.
  • Redesign or upcycle worn-out clothing.
  • Repair clothing.
  • Donate clothes you no longer use or wear to a charity or shelter.
  • Avoid impulse purchases.
  • Think quality over quantity and buy quality clothes at affordable prices.
  • Try going to a thrift shop or “ukay-ukay”.
  • We support sustainable fashion brands and shops that use environmentally friendly materials in their clothing.
  • For example, be a smart laundry manager by washing lots of loads and using non-abrasive detergents.

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