Recycling is not limited to paper and plastic, clothing waste is becoming a growing problem

The ‘throwaway’ culture is becoming more of a problem as fast fashion companies continue to sell cheap and cheap clothes.

New Years is less than a month away and choosing the perfect party outfit is the next step on the to-do list. Most will head to Shein, Forever 21, or H&M for a cheap find, but isn’t there a better alternative to buying from those fast-paced fashion industries that are contributing to the proliferation of waste from clothes ?

CBS News has revealed that the amount of clothing Americans buy has quintupled over the past three decades. On average, the researchers reported that each item is only worn an average of seven times.

Americans throw away about 80 pounds of clothing each year, with only 13.6% of clothing and shoes recycled. Globally, 12% of the materials used in clothing end up being recycled.

Paper, glass and plastic bottles have recycling rates of 66%, 27% and 29% respectively in the United States according to the BBC. When it comes to recycling plastics, it may be a good idea to also consider recycling or reuse of unwanted clothing.

Jaeha Lee, a professor at NDSU and coordinator of the apparel, retail merchandising and design program, says fast fashion has created the culture of the “throwaway”. Consumers buy more impulsively from fast fashion brands because they are trendy and cheap.

“Because clothes are cheap and poorly made, consumers throw them away after a few uses,” Lee said. “This culture has contributed enormously to the increase in textile waste, which already constitutes a significant part of landfills. Fast fashion brands are unlikely to pay fair wages to their factory workers who are mostly located overseas to keep their prices lower. They also force their workers to work overtime for quick turnover. “

Business of Fashion released a report on Shein’s violation of labor laws on November 12, 2021. In Guangzhou, Shein’s headquarters, they found manufacturers in informal factories in apartment buildings with windows barred. without any emergency arising; conditions that violate Chinese labor laws.

Workers told researchers they sewed 12 hours a day, worked 75 hours a week, and only had one day off per month. At a Shein packaging factory in Foshan, workers also said they worked 12 to 14 hours a day and up to 28 days a month. According to Chinese labor laws, working weeks cannot exceed 40 hours and overtime cannot exceed 36 hours per month.

With a strong social media presence, Shein’s target audience is women aged 16-35. The brand is also aimed at men and children.

“Fast Fashion is designed to target young consumers who want trendy and inexpensive clothing,” Lee said. “These are easily adopted by students who have limited financial resources and want to be on the cutting edge of fashion. “

So what is the best alternative to shopping in these fast fashion industries? The saying “quality over quantity” holds true when it comes to shopping for clothes.

Consumers should consider buying from retailers that sell high quality clothing so that they can wear them for longer. You can buy a quality t-shirt that lasts for years instead of 10 t-shirts that only last a few months. These retailers can pay their workers fair wages because quality is more important than price. Some retailers offer repair services to customers to encourage them to use their products for longer.

Patagonia is a great example because they are transparent about where and how their clothes are made. To view this information, go to

Several years ago, Patagonia ran a Black Friday ad in the New York Times that read “Don’t buy this shirt” to draw attention to over-consumption of clothing. They hope this headline gets as many people as possible to read the full ad and then head to their website to make the Common Threads Initiative pledge.

While some companies seem to be following in Patagonia’s footsteps, they could actually use a marketing trick called greenwashing; make consumers believe their businesses are sustainable.

Lee says fast fashion brands are using this marketing trick by launching “organic” and “eco-friendly” product lines and focusing heavily on these products in marketing. However, as long as they produce disposable clothing that creates textile waste, they cannot be considered sustainable businesses.

In 2019, H&M launched its own “green” clothing line called “Conscious”. The company claims to use “organic” cotton and recycled polyester. However, this is just one example of the greenwashing marketing tactic used to make oneself appear more environmentally friendly.

The Federal Trade Commission provides general guidelines for greenwashing. According to the Daily Orange, there is not a single legal definition of pro-marketing words such as “sustainable”, “green” or “environmentally friendly”, which means that companies are legally able to s ‘get away with a false statement.

With little help from the FTC, there are a number of ways people can help fight fast fashion.

Buying sustainable and ethical fashion brands, buying clothes less often, buying better quality clothes, donating and selling second-hand clothes, buying second-hand clothes, and recycling and reuse clothes are some of the ways of doing business. ‘improve the environment.

In Fargo, residents can bring their unwanted clothing to Elendu Textile LLC, a textile and fabric recycling company.
The company is partnering with clothing brands, retailers and other recyclers to raise awareness of the growing need to recycle textiles and to encourage and support a culture that practices reuse.

To do this, they created a program called “Green By Pound”. The program encourages everyone to return their used / unwanted textiles in exchange for money.

“We weigh your textiles and pay for them by the pound. We sort and then bale these textiles and export them overseas for reuse, ”Elendu Textile LLC wrote on its website.

For more information, visit the company’s website at