One non-profit companys look at the financial and environmental impact of our clothes:
WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme) is a UK “not for profit company limited by guarantee, set up with an independent board to promote resource efficiency”. In 2011 WRAP released their eye opening report ‘Valuing our clothes’. This report provided a “look at the financial and environmental aspects of the whole journey of all clothing; from raw material, to manufacture, purchase, use and disposal of our clothes”. On their website, WRAP shared the following from their research findings:
- Perhaps one of the most surprising findings to emerge from the research is the estimated impact of extending the active life we get from our clothes. If we increased active use by just nine months, we could reduce our water, carbon and waste impacts by between 20%-30%, and reduce costs by around £5 billion.
- There are benefits to be had at every stage of the life of our clothes, and not just once they arrive in the hands of the consumer. Our report suggests there are opportunities for change in the sourcing and fibre treatment stages, through to manufacture and production.
- There are many ways in which we can extend the life of our unwanted clothing by passing them to others, via auction sites like Ebay, through Freecycle, charity shops, a ‘swishing party’ or with the help of the M&S ‘shwopping’ initiative.
- Even when items are no longer wearable or repairable, there are still commercial opportunities as textiles have a strong market value (currently around £400 a tonne) and can find new life in a range of industries from mining to motor manufacture!
A Toronto business that supports the earth, your style and your wallet:
If you love the environment, and high fashion at an affordable price, the Second Nature Boutique might just be for you. The Second Nature Boutique is one of Toronto’s original consignment stores. The boutique has been open for over 40 years. And, according to owner Kary Dick the boutique “offers a fun and relaxed environment for shoppers to enjoy the finest luxuries for only a fraction of retail, while allowing consignors to receive a profitable return for what’s hidden in their closets”. The boutique is also well loved in their local community , where they have been very well received.
Also, beyond their environmental focus and great service, this boutique also boasts a fascinating back story. The boutique was opened in 1974 by Kary’s mom, Ruth Silverberg. As a single mom with four children Ruth was ahead of her time. She came up with the idea for her business at a time when recycling was not that accepted. However, she felt strongly that “there was a need for women to afford luxury clothing without breaking the bank”. She also believed that “clothing really established how a woman felt”.
Ruth was also eager to set up shop in the family friendly Davisville and Mt. Pleasant community. Though it was not a robust community when she opened her boutique, she felt that the community would grow overtime. She was apparently right, because the community and her business are both thriving. And, thanks to her daughter, after 40 years the Second Nature Boutique continues to provide support to women, the community and the environment.
Other information related to this topic:
- Fresh water scarcity: An introduction to the problem (TEDX Video – Christiana Z.Peppard)
- The Environmental Cost of Clothes (China Water Risk)