We Throw Away Far Too Much Clothing

©. NeoMam Studios (used with permission)

A short video measures fashion waste against famous landmarks in order to give some perspective.

Did you know that the average consumer throws away 60 percent of clothing within a year of purchase? The sheer quantity of clothing being discarded regularly is so enormous that it's difficult to comprehend. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that 18.6 million tonnes will be thrown away this year alone, and that total annual discards could add up to a mind-boggling 150 million tonnes by the time 2050 rolls around. Should that actually happen, the Empire State Building stuffed full of clothes would account for a mere 0.05 percent of discarded textiles.

In order to help people understand just how much clothing this is, UK-based NeoMam Studios has created a series of images comparing discarded clothing to the famous landmarks they could fill. From a press release: "The cumulative total is around 150 million tonnes – including the Great Wall of China twice over." They calculated the amounts using the following tools:

"Where available, official figures for the dimensions and volume of each landmark were used; where unavailable, we determined the volume of each structure based on its building materials and their coinciding density based on accepted engineering data charts. For clothing, we based both weight in kilograms and their volume, based on the density of textiles, from estimations provided by an international shipping service."

These images provide perspective in the hopes that people will realize how serious this problem is and adjust their clothing habits accordingly. Positive changes include wearing clothes for longer, shopping less frequently, choosing natural (non-synthetic) fabrics, extending the lifespan of items by repairing, reselling, donating, swapping, and recycling.

The NeoMam team says it embraces this philosophy, with 93 percent of employees shopping for new items only a few times yearly and 68 percent saying they buy only to replace damaged or old outfits. Two are avoiding buying new items altogether (like I am!) and one has committed to making all of their own clothing, apart from athletic gear.

You can see the presentation in the YouTube video embedded below.