Review of clothing disposal reasons

Authors: Kirsi Laitala and Ingun Grimstad Klepp, SIFO

Abstract

Garment lifetimes and longer serviceable life play important roles in discussions about the sustainability of clothing consumption.

A compilation of the research on clothing disposal motivations shows that there are three main reasons for disposal:

  1. Intrinsic quality (37%): Wear and tear-related issues such as shrinkage, tears and holes, fading of colour, broken zippers and loss of technical functions such as waterproofness.
  2. Fit (28%): Garments that do not fit either because the user has changed size, or the garment did not fit well to start with (for example due to unsuitable grading, insufficient wear ease or wrong size).
  3. Perceived value (35%): reasons where the consumer no longer wants the garment because it is outdated or out of fashion, or no longer is needed or wanted, or is not valued, for example when there is a lack of space in the wardrobe.

This shows that almost two-thirds of garments are discarded for reasons other than physical durability. Poor fit/design together with lack of perceived value by the owner are responsible for the majority of clothing disposals.

Physical strength is one of the several factors that are important if the lifetime of clothing is to be increased. However, it does not help to make clothes stronger if they are not going to be used longer anyway; this will just contribute to increased environmental impacts from the production and disposal phases. We do not need disposable products» that last for centuries. To work with reducing the environmental impacts of clothing consumption, it is important to optimize the match between strength, value and fit. This has the potential to reduce overproduction. Optimizing clothing lifespans will ensure the best possible utilization of the materials in line with the intentions of the circular economy.

Introduction

Garment lifetimes and longer serviceable life play important roles in discussions about the sustainability of clothing consumption.

Here we present the empirical findings summarized from the research that exists around clothing disposal. The review was originally conducted for the work with the development of durability criteria for Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for apparel and footwear. We believe this can be useful information for companies working to improve their products, and debate about clothing sustainability including the understanding of PEF.

We would like to thank Roy Kettlewell and Angus Ireland for their cooperation.

Method

The review includes empirical quantitative studies on clothing disposal reasons. The studies use varying methods, where online surveys are the most commonly used, but also two physical wardrobe studies are included. The way disposal reasons are studied varies as well. Many surveys ask for general, most common disposal reasons, while wardrobe studies and a few of the surveys focus on specific garments that the informants have disposed of. One of the online wardrobe surveys also asks for anticipated disposal reasons for specific garments instead of past behavior. All of the studies have been conducted between 1987 and 2020. The review excluded any studies that did not focus on disposal reasons or did not report results in a quantitative manner. In addition, it excludes a few lower-quality studies with methodological issues. In total 17 studies that fulfil the inclusion criteria were found.

Results

The review shows that clothing is discarded for many reasons. Table 1 summarizes the results and gives some information about the study sample such as where it was conducted and the number of respondents, as well as the main method that was used. Although there are differences between the surveys, they show a common feature. The results on disposal reasons could be placed in three main categories that were found in all reviewed studies: 1) intrinsic quality, 2) fit, and 3) perceived value, and an additional category for 4) other or unknown reasons. The categories include the following disposal reasons:

  1. Intrinsic quality: Wear and tear-related issues such as shrinkage, tears and holes, fading of colour, broken zippers and loss of technical functions such as waterproofness.
  2. Fit: Garments that do not fit either because the user has changed size, or the garment did not fit well to start with (for example due to unsuitable grading, insufficient wear ease or wrong size).
  3. Perceived value: reasons where the consumer no longer wants the garment because it is outdated or out of fashion, or no longer is needed or wanted, or is not valued, for example when there is a lack of space in the wardrobe.

StudyResearch design and sample sizeIntrinsic qualityFitPerceived valueOther / unknown
AC Nielsen (Laitala & Klepp, 2020)Survey in five countries, 1111 adults aged 18-64, anticipated disposal reason of 40,356 garments4413359
WRAP (2017)Survey in the UK, 2058 adults, 16,895 garments, disposal reasons per clothing category past year1842337
Laitala, Boks, and Klepp (2015)Wardrobe study in Norway, 25 adults (9 men and 16 women), 396 discarded garments50162410
Klepp (2001)Wardrobe study in Norway, 24 women aged 34- 46. 329 discarded garments31153321
Collett, Cluver, and Chen (2013)Interviews in the USA, 13 female students (aged 18 – 28). Each participant brought five fast fashion items that they no longer wear413821
Chun (1987)Survey in the USA, 89 female students (aged 18 – 30). Most recent garment disposal reason.629569
Lang, Armstrong, and Brannon (2013)Survey in the USA, 555 adults. General garment disposal reasons.303139
Koch and Domina (1997)Survey in the USA, 277 students (82% female). General disposal reasons and methods.293833
Koch and Domina (1999) and Domina and Koch (1999)Survey in the USA, 396 adults (88% female). General disposal reasons and methods.213742
Zhang et al. (2020)Survey in China, 507 adults (53% female). General disposal reasons.43192216
Ungerth and Carlsson (2011)Survey in Sweden, 1014 adults (age 16 – 74). The most common disposal reason.608219
YouGov (Stevanin, 2019)Survey in Italy, 992 adults, general disposal reasons.31242025
YouGov (2017a, 2017b, 2017c, 2017d, 2017e)Surveys in Australia, Philippine, Malaysia, Hong Kong & Singapore, in total 12,434 adults. General disposal reasons.3925297
MeanApprox. 20,000 adults34.125.831.412.6
Table 1. Summary of clothing disposal reasons in 17 consumer studies.

When the category of other/unknown reasons is excluded, the division between the three main disposal reason categories is quite similar, with intrinsic quality constituting about 37% of disposal reasons, followed by lack of perceived value (35%) and poor fit (28%) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Clothing disposal reasons

Conclusion

A compilation of the research on clothing disposal motivations shows that there are three main reasons for disposal. Intrinsic quality, that is wear and tear and other physical changes of garments is the dominating disposal reason (37%), followed by lack of perceived value (35%) and poor fit (28%). This shows that almost two-thirds of garments are discarded for reasons other than physical durability. Poor fit/design together with lack of perceived value by the owner are responsible for the majority of clothing disposals.

Physical strength is one of the several factors that are important if the lifetime of clothing is to be increased. However, it does not help to make clothes stronger if they are not going to be used longer anyways, this will just contribute to increased environmental impacts from the production and disposal phases. We do not need «disposable products» that last for centuries. To work with reducing the environmental impacts of clothing consumption, it is important to optimize the match between strength, value and fit. Optimizing clothing lifespans will ensure the best possible utilization of the materials in line with the intentions of the circular economy.

References

Chun, H.-K. (1987). Differences between fashion innovators and non-fashion innovators in their clothing disposal practices. (Master’s thesis). Oregon State University, Corvallis. https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/v118rk195

Collett, M., Cluver, B., & Chen, H.-L. (2013). Consumer Perceptions the Limited Lifespan of Fast Fashion Apparel. Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, 17(2), 61-68. doi:10.1108/RJTA-17-02-2013-B009

Domina, T., & Koch, K. (1999). Consumer reuse and recycling of post-consumer textile waste. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 3(4), 346 – 359. doi:10.1108/eb022571

Klepp, I. G. (2001). Hvorfor går klær ut av bruk? Avhending sett i forhold til kvinners klesvaner [Why are clothes no longer used? Clothes disposal in relationship to women’s clothing habits]. Retrieved from Oslo: https://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12199/5390

Koch, K., & Domina, T. (1997). The effects of environmental attitude and fashion opinion leadership on textile recycling in the US. Journal of Consumer Studies & Home Economics, 21(1), 1-17. doi:10.1111/j.1470-6431.1997.tb00265.x

Koch, K., & Domina, T. (1999). Consumer Textile Recycling as a Means of Solid Waste Reduction. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 28(1), 3-17. doi:10.1177/1077727×99281001

Laitala, K., Boks, C., & Klepp, I. G. (2015). Making Clothing Last: A Design Approach for Reducing the Environmental Impacts. International Journal of Design, 9(2), 93-107.

Laitala, K., & Klepp, I. G. (2020). What Affects Garment Lifespans? International Clothing Practices Based on a Wardrobe Survey in China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. Sustainability, 12(21), 9151. Retrieved from https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/12/21/9151

Lang, C., Armstrong, C. M., & Brannon, L. A. (2013). Drivers of clothing disposal in the US: An exploration of the role of personal attributes and behaviours in frequent disposal. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 37(6), 706-714. doi:10.1111/ijcs.12060

Stevanin, E. (2019). Fast fashion: il continuo rinnovo del guardaroba. Retrieved from https://it.yougov.com/news/2019/05/27/fast-fashion-il-rinnovo-del-guardaroba/

Ungerth, L., & Carlsson, A. (2011). Vad händer sen med våra kläder? Enkätundersökning. Stockholm: http://www.konsumentforeningenstockholm.se/Global/Konsument%20och%20Milj%c3%b6/Rapporter/KfS%20rapport_april11_Vad%20h%c3%a4nder%20sen%20med%20v%c3%a5ra%20kl%c3%a4der.pdf

WRAP. (2017). Valuing Our Clothes: the cost of  UK fashionhttp://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/valuing-our-clothes-the-cost-of-uk-fashion_WRAP.pdf

YouGov. (2017a). Fast fashion: 27% of Malaysians have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once. Retrieved from https://my.yougov.com/en-my/news/2017/12/06/fast-fashion/

YouGov. (2017b). Fast fashion: 39% of Hong Kongers have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once. Retrieved from https://hk.yougov.com/en-hk/news/2017/12/06/fast-fashion/

YouGov. (2017c). Fast fashion: a third of Filipinos have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once. Retrieved from https://ph.yougov.com/en-ph/news/2017/12/06/fast-fashion/

YouGov. (2017d). Fast fashion: a third of Singaporeans have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once. Retrieved from https://sg.yougov.com/en-sg/news/2017/12/06/fast-fashion/

YouGov. (2017e). Fast fashion: Three in ten Aussies have thrown away clothing after wearing it just once. Retrieved from www.au.yougov.com/news/2017/12/06/fast-fashion/

Zhang, L., Wu, T., Liu, S., Jiang, S., Wu, H., & Yang, J. (2020). Consumers’ clothing disposal behaviors in Nanjing, China. Journal of Cleaner Production, 276, 123184.

Foreløpige resultater fra plukkanalyse av kasserte tekstiler

Forfattere: Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Anna Schytte Sigaard, Lisbeth Løvbak Berg og Kristiane Rabben

Innen 2025 skal tekstiler ut av restavfallet i Norge, som i resten av EU og EØS-området. Derfor haster det med kunnskap om hva tekstilavfallet består av og hvor det i dag havner. I prosjektet Wasted Textile har Mepex AS og SIFO gjennomført plukkanalyser av kasserte og donerte tekstiler. Rapport om dette kommer først i 2023, men foreløpige resultater viser at plukkanalyser er egnet for å gi kunnskaper om tekstilene og kan være nyttige i det viktige arbeidet som må gjøres for å redusere miljøbelastninger fra tekstilforbruket.

Kasserte tekstiler

Høsten 2021 og våren 2022 ble det gjennomført plukkanalyser i Vestfold, Viken, Romerike og Oslo fra tre strømmer med innhold av kasserte tekstiler: restavfall fra husholdningen, det de fleste kaller søppel eller boss, restavfall levert til kontainer for brennbart restavfall på gjenvinningsstasjon og donerte tekstiler til UFF og Fretex. Tekstilene ble sortert etter type, fiberinnhold og tilstand, og deretter veid og telt.

Wasted Textiles, er finansiert av Norges Forskningsråd og Handelens Miljøfond og handler om å redusere mengden fossile tekstiler og utnytte tekstilavfall bedre. Fordi vi i dag vet lite om hvor mye og hva slags tekstiler som blir kastet både i Norge og i andre land, har vi utviklet nye metoder. Bedre oversikt er nødvendig for å planlegge både for gjenbruk og gjenvinning av tekstilene. Metoden kan brukes i utvikling av virkemidler slik som utvidet produsentansvar (EPR), slik vi tidligere har vist i denne  kronikken (forskersonen.no).

Gode forslag til produsentansvar er viktige nå som regjeringen har satt ned en arbeidsgruppe for å få på plass dette for tekstil i Norge (regjeringen.no).

Tekstilene omfatter både avfall og det som på ulike måter gis til gjenbruk og derfor kaller vi det «kasserte tekstiler».

Vi sorterte totalt 3745 kg kasserte tekstiler fordelt slikt: 2181 kg hentet ut av restavfallskontainer ved tre ulike gjenvinningsstasjoner, 1182 kg donerte tekstiler og 382 kg husholdningsavfall (søppel). Tekstiler fra husholdningsavfallet er kraftig underrepresentert i analysene så langt. Derfor er tallene vi legger frem her vektet. Det er planlagt flere plukkanalyser av husholdningsavfall høsten 2022. Størstedelen av de utsorterte tekstilene var “Klær og tilbehør”. Den neststørste kategorien var “Tekstil – ikke klær”, som består av bæreprodukter, tekstiler til hjem og interiør, leker, hygienetekstiler, oppbevaring/emballasje og utstyr.

Mye klær og mest til barn

I den største kategorien «Klær og tilbehør» fant vi mest barneklær – hele 332 kg, nesten 18% av klærne. Det meste kom fra tekstiltårnene og var donert til UFF og Fretex med tanke på gjenbruk, men hele 126 kg var kastet i restavfallet enten i hjemmet eller på gjenvinningsstasjon. De andre store kategoriene var underdeler (bukser, shorts, skjørt), tynne overdeler (t-skjorter, topper) og tykke overdeler (gensere, cardigans). Igjen var mesteparten donert til UFF og Fretex, men nesten halvparten av de tynne overdelene og en tredjedel av de tykke overdelene og underdelene var blitt kastet og ville i dag endt opp i forbrenning. Andelen sko var størst i tekstilstrømmen fra restavfall på gjenvinningsstasjon. Hele 75% av alle skoene kom derifra.

65% av de kasserte tekstilene er helt eller delvis plast

Disse tallen er basert på merkingen av tekstilene. Senere vil vi undersøke om merkingen stemmer ved å bruke en fiberskanner. Det er mulig at tallene da blir noe oppjustert fordi tidligere studier av fibermerking har vist systematisk feilmerking med mer naturfiber enn plaggene har (circle-economy.com).

Det var ikke store forskjeller i fiberinnhold mellom klær og andre tekstiler. Litt under halvparten av alle fibrene var syntetiske, rundt 5% var ull og ca. halvparten var andre, naturlige fibre. I dagens globale tekstilproduksjon er to tredjedeler (69%) av alle materialer som brukes til tekstiler syntetiske og under 1% ull. (se Changing Markets Foundation). Vi vet ikke nøyaktig hvordan norsk klesforbruk ser ut, men forventer mer ull enn globale gjennomsnitt. De kasserte tekstilene viser ikke sammensettingen av forbruket i dag, fordi mye av tekstilene er produsert for flere år siden da andelen av syntetiske materialer var mindre. Derfor er det sannsynlig at det syntetiske innholdet på tekstiler som går ut av bruk øke raskt de neste årene. I våre analyser var det bare 35% av tekstilene som ikke delvis var laget av plast (syntetiske tekstiler).

Mye bruksverdi igjen i klærne som kastes

Tekstilene fra gjenvinningsstasjon og tekstiltårn ble vurdert etter tilstand ut ifra om tekstilene var ødelagte eller ikke før de ble kastet. Mest brukbart er det i tekstiltårnene, men likevel ble bare rundt en tredjedel fra gjenvinningsstasjonene og litt over en femtedel fra tekstiltårnene ble vurdert som ødelagt. Det betyr ikke nødvendigvis at tekstilene har en gjenbruksverdi. Det må finnes noen som har ønsker om å bruke tekstilene for at de kan komme i bruk på nytt. For eksempel kan en jakke være hel og fin, men hvis den har påtrykt logo fra en bedrift, sportsklubb eller navn på tidligere eier så kan det være vanskeligere å finne noen som ønsker å bruke den. Vi vurderte ikke om de ødelagte tekstilene kunne fikses. Hvis for eksempel en glidelås var ødelagt i en bukse så ble buksen vurdert som ødelagt. Hvis en genser hadde en stor flekk så ble den også vurdert som ødelagt. Dermed kan flere av tekstilene som ble vurdert som ødelagte potensielt være fortsatt brukbare med enkel reparasjon eller vask og flekkfjerning.

Klær og tilbehør er mindre ødelagt enn andre tekstiler. I kategorien med tekstiler som ikke er klær er det ganske jevnt blant underkategoriene, litt over en tredjedel er ødelagt. Blant Klærne derimot er det større forskjeller. Sokker er oftest ødelagte mens “Tilbehør og Sport, fritid og arbeid” ligger på rundt en tredjedel ødelagt og resten har under en fjerdedel ødelagt. Dette har sammenheng med hvordan klær anskaffes. Sokker kjøpes oftere når det er tomt i skuffen, mens mye annet anskaffes fordi man har lyst på noe nytt og ikke fordi noe er slitt eller mangler.

Disse resultatene er foreløpige. Flere detaljer og sikrere tall vil komme i 2023. Vi ønsker også å gjennomføre flere analyser for å fange opp geografiske og sesongavhengige variasjoner bedre, samt sjekke fibermerkingen mot fiberinnhold.  Vi mener plukkanalyser av kasserte tekstiler er viktige i oppbygging av kunnskap og politikk rund klær og andre tekstiler for å få ned miljøbelastninger og ønsker samarbeid med alle som kan bidra til at flere analyser kan gjennomføres.

Product lifetime in European and Norwegian policies

Nina Heidenstrøm, Pål Strandbakken, Vilde Haugrønning og Kirsi Laitala

Sammendrag

Formålet med denne rapporten er å få en bedre forståelse av hvordan produktlevetid har blitt posisjonert i politikken de siste tjue årene. Ved bruk av dokumentanalyse undersøker vi forekomsten og kontekstualiseringen av produktlevetid i EUs sirkulærøkonomipolitikk, norske partiprogrammer og offisielle dokumenter, dokumenter fra norske miljøorganisasjoner, forbrukerorganisasjoners politikk og produktpolitikk. Samlet finner vi at det er lite fokus på produktlevetid mellom 2000-2015, menat det har vært en stor økning i fokus de siste fem årene. Imidlertid er det fremdeles lang vei å gå i arbeidet med å utvikle tiltak som faktisk adresserer produktlevetid.

Klikk her for å lese hele rapporten på engelsk (oda.oslomet.no).

Durable or cheap? Parents’ acquisition of children’s clothing

Ingun Grimstad Klepp & Vilde Haugrønning

Abstract

Parents are faced with a plurality of choices and concerns when it comes to the acquisition of clothing for their children. This paper explores how parents employ longevity in consumption of children’s clothing from a practice-oriented perspective. The material consists of 6 focus groups with 40 parents who have at least one child under the age of 18. The aim of the groups was to establish children’s clothing needs: how many they need of each garment, how long parents expect the garment to last and what they understand as quality in clothing.

The analysis shows that parents mainly opt for an ‘one or the other’ strategy; they choose what they understand as quality, often affiliated with specific brands, and accept paying more for the garment, or they mainly choose based on low prices, and expect less of the garment. Quality is evaluated based on the garments’ durability and function. More specifically, the parents measure the service lifetime of a garment based on the number of seasons it lasts, either in terms of wear and tear or the child growing out of it. The expected lifetime is defined by uncertain sources, from their own and friends’ experiences, and their desire to justify their own choices as well as routinised practices.

Our discussion section employs these findings and contextualise them within product lifetime discourses. By doing this, we provide knowledge about how quality is understood, and how brand and price are used as indicators. We show how lack of information about products, especially on garments, leads to uninformed consumption practices that have consequences for how quality and longevity are prioritised and understood.

Click here to read the full article (www.ul.ie)

Consumer practices for extending the social lifetimes of sofas and clothing

Vilde Haugrønning, Kirsi Laitala & Ingun Grimstad Klepp

Abstract

Consumers play an essential role in efforts to extend product lifetimes (PL) and consumers’ practices can determine how long and active lives products get. Applying the framework of Social Practice Theory, this paper argues that in order to suggest changes to how consumers can contribute to longer product lifespans, research needs to focus on consumer practices. The data material consists of 4 focus group interviews with 38 participants about household goods and 29 semi-structured interviews about clothing.

Previous research shows that consumers’ expectations of product lifetime has decreased, while satisfaction with products is relatively high, which may indicate that product break down and/or replacement is more accepted. Therefore, we argue, it is necessary to focus on social lifespans. Our findings show that products such as clothing and sofas often go out of use or are disposed of before their physical lifespan ends, and it is more common to donate or sell old clothing and sofas than buying the products second hand. There are a number of routinised practices, such as disposal of functional items, that are considered normal, which leads to less reflexivity of seemingly unsustainable practices.

The material in products, or the expectation to the material, is highly influential for practices that can extend the social lifespan, such as maintenance. We conclude that by understanding practices as integrated and influenced by elements of the material, social and cultural, policy interventions may have a greater impact on the social lifespan of products.

Click here to read the full article (www.ul.ie)

Global differences in consumer practices affect clothing lifespans

Kirsi Laitala & Ingun Grimstad Klepp

Abstract

Most studies of clothing and related habits are carried out within a country. However, apparel production and sales are a highly globalized industry, with many of the same large chains operating worldwide. It is thus quite possible that the use of the same mass-produced clothing differs between various geographical areas. Based on a practice theoretical approach, we have studied differences in consumption, use and disposal of clothes in different countries that may affect the lifespan of apparel.

The paper is based on an international survey in five countries with large apparel markets: China, Germany, Japan, UK and the USA. 200 respondents from each country answered to a comprehensive web-based survey on their wardrobe content. We found differences in practices that could affect the lifespans of clothing in these five countries. At the same time, we find many similarities. For clothing acquisition, buying new items dominates in all the five markets, and washing machines contribute to the main chore of keeping clothes clean. Home production and second-hand clothes constitute a very small part of clothing consumption in all five countries. Many respondents showed low sewing skills, and repair activities were done irregularly. Thus, many of the challenges to increasing the lifespans of clothing are similar for all the five countries. At the same time, there are significant differences. These differences open up for the possibility to learn «best practice» by studying the countries and transferring knowledge between regions. When defining use phase in LCA and other sustainability tools, it must be taken into account that despite the fact that clothing is a global industry, consumption is part of local practice.

Click here to read the full article (researchgate.com)

What Affects Garment Lifespans? International Clothing Practices Based on a Wardrobe Survey in China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA

Kirsi Laitala and Ingun Grimstad Klepp

Abstract

Increasing the length of clothing lifespans is crucial for reducing the total environmental impacts. This article discusses which factors contribute to the length of garment lifespans by studying how long garments are used, how many times they are worn, and by how many users. The analysis is based on quantitative wardrobe survey data from China, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. Variables were divided into four blocks related respectively to the garment, user, garment use, and clothing practices, and used in two hierarchical multiple regressions and two binary logistic regressions.

The models explain between 11% and 43% of the variation in clothing lifespans. The garment use block was most indicative for the number of wears, while garment related properties contribute most to variation in the number of users. For lifespans measured in years, all four aspects were almost equally important. Some aspects that affect the lifespans of clothing cannot be easily changed (e.g., the consumer’s income, nationality, and age) but they can be used to identify where different measures can have the largest benefits. Several of the other conditions that affect lifespans can be changed (e.g., garment price and attitudes towards fashion) through quality management, marketing strategies, information, and improved consumer policies.

Click here to read the full article (mdpi.com).

Clothing Lifespans: What Should Be Measured and How

Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Kirsi Laitala & Stephen Wiedemann

Abstract

Increasing the use of each product, most often called longer lifespans, is an effective environmental strategy. This article discusses how garment lifespans can be described in order to be measured and compared. It answers two sub-questions: (1) what to measure (units), and (2) how to measure (methods). We introduce and define terms related to clothing lifespans and contribute to discussions about an appropriate functional unit for garments in life cycle assessments (LCA) and other environmental accounting tools. We use a global wardrobe survey to exemplify the units and methods.

Clothing lifespans can be described and measured in years, the number of wears, cleaning cycles, and users. All have an independent value that show different and central aspects of clothing lifespans. A functional unit for LCAs should emphasise both the number of wears for all users as well as the service lifespan in years. Number of wears is the best measure for regular clothing, while number of years is most suited for occasion wear, because it is important to account for the need of more garments to cover all the relevant occasions during a specified time period. It is possible to study lifespan via carefully constructed surveys, providing key data relating to actual garment use.

Click here to read the full article (oda.oslomet.no)

Global Differences in Consumer Practices Affect Clothing Lifespans

Kirsi Laitala & Ingun Grimstad Klepp

The current systems of consumption and production cause long-lasting social-ecological damage and a fundamental change seems inevitable, if livelihoods of present and future generations are to be preserved. The lifetimes of products and their performance concerning reliability, functionality, re-usability and recyclability are core issues in the transformation from a linear to a more sustainable circular economy. While discussions on product lifetimes have been going on for a number of years, the topic has come to the forefront of current (political, scientific & societal) debates due to its interconnectedness with a number of recent prominent movements, such as the circular economy, ecodesign and collaborative consumption. The 3rd international PLATE conference (Product Lifetimes And The Environment), held from 18-20 June 2019 in Berlin, Germany, addressed product lifetimes in the context of sustainability. The proceedings of this conference present a great variety of significant research on how to enable more sustainable practices of designing, producing, using, re-pur-posing and recycling products and on how to assess the sustainability of these endeavours. The authors work in inter- and transdisciplinary teams that operate at the crossroads of engineering, design, social sciences and environmental sciences.

Klikk her for å lese mer (depositonce.tu-berlin.de)


Does Use Matter? Comparison of Environmental Impacts of Clothing Based on Fiber Type

Kirsi Laitala, Ingun Grimstad Klepp & Beverley Henry

Abstract

Several tools have been developed to compare the environmental impact of textiles. The most widely used are Higg Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) and MADE-BY Fiber Benchmark. They use data from production to evaluate the environmental impacts of textiles differentiated by fiber type. The use phase is excluded from both tools. This article discusses whether there is evidence that the use of textiles differs systematically between different fiber types and examines the consequences of comparing the environmental impacts of clothing based on differences in production of fibers alone without including differences in their use.

The empirical material in this paper is based on analysis of rating tools and a literature review on clothing use. It shows that fiber content contributes to the way consumers take care of and use their clothing. When use is omitted, major environmental problems associated with this stage, such as spread of microplastics, are also excluded. This one-sided focus on material production impacts also excludes the importance of product lifespans, quality, and functionality. The consequence is that short-lived disposable products are equated with durable products. Comparing dissimilar garments will not help consumers to make choices that will reduce the environmental burden of clothing. We need an informed discussion on how to use all materials in the most environmentally sustainable way possible.

Click here to read the full article (oda.oslomet.no)