Thursday, 12 November 2015

Hugh's War On Fashion Waste

When you think of voices raised in support of sustainable fashion, the name Hugh Fearnley-Whittinstall doesn't readily spring to mind. Sustainable farming and fishing, sure. But clothes?

Hugh's latest show for the BBC, Hugh's War On Waste, is obviously focussed around the terrifying amount of perfectly edible food we waste as a nation every day. But the second episode of the show, which went out on November 9th, took time to cast a jaundiced eye over our relationship with fast fashion. The results were not pretty.

In one arresting sequence, Hugh created a seven-foot, ten thousand garment pile of discarded clothing in a shopping mall, then asked the public to guess how long it took the UK to generate that amount of waste. The horrifying answer: ten minutes.

Hugh said:

"We're binning more than £150m worth of clothes every year in the UK, and they end up being incinerated or buried in landfill. Chucking away clothes at this current rate is clearly an environmental disaster."
The point is that, like food waste, for a large part there's nothing wrong with the clothes we shove in the bin. What no longer suits us may very well be a perfect match for someone else. Even if that's not the case, the textile from which those garments are made is a valuable commodity in its own right. Hugh continues:

"There's really no excuse to bin any of our old clothes. Even if you think they've had their day, they can still end up as a recycled mop head or stuffing for a car seat. Charity shops will take anything and if they don't think they can sell it they will move it on to someone that can use it in a different way."
We need to stop of thinking of food and textile waste as useless if we're to get control of our overflowing landfills. The correlation between Hugh's example of perfectly good food going in the bin and perfectly servicable garments going the same way couldn't be starker. Shows like Hugh's War On Waste are essential in the push to educate people about how they can help save money, cut carbon emissions and sort out the environment with some really simple, easy lifestyle changes.

Hugh's War On Waste is available via the BBC iPlayer for the next month.

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