Fashion & Beauty

Taking an eco approach to textiles

29 JUN 22 | 2 minute read

With fast fashion often making headlines, many of us want to shop more sustainably when it comes to our wardrobes.

The good news is reducing the environmental impact of the clothes on our backs is easier than you might think – and there are several different ways to do it.

The problem with textiles

Textiles have an extremely high environmental impact.

In Scotland textiles make up just 4% of household waste by weight, yet they account for nearly a third (32%) of the carbon impacts. That’s the impact with everything before they become ‘waste’ factored in – like emissions associated with growing the fibres, manufacturing, packaging and transport.

Textiles is also a global industry, with manufacturing and consumption of the same goods often happening in completely different time zones.

As a result it can be difficult to regulate and has also been linked to several environmental and social issues, from pollution to pay and conditions and even human rights violations.

Tips for reducing textiles waste

  1. Do I really need that? Reducing how much we buy in the first place will have the biggest impact when it comes to cutting our clothing carbon footprint. 

  2. Second-hand, first choice! Choosing 'new to you' preloved and refurbished goods relieves pressure on the finite, carbon-intensive natural resources like cotton and oil needed to make new products. 

  3. Try hiring your next occasion outfit - clothing rental has been the norm for kilts for years, and it’s on the rise for womenswear too. No more one-time outfits languishing at the back of the wardrobe!

  4. Passing on clothing we no longer need helps both people and planet. You could donate or sell if your kit is in good condition.

If they’re no longer usable it’s important to recycle textiles to avoid unnecessary environmental damage. Textile collection points are widely available - check the Recycling Locator to find out where these are.