The fact that consumers cannot and do not want to keep pace with the number of fast fashion companies is a well-known problem – the solution of which Greenpeace has been demanding for years. Companies such as H&M or Zara, some of which have new collections sent to their stores every week, have to produce less and more sustainably, consumers shop more consciously – and what doesn’t sell shouldn’t just go to the dump.
The demand has already borne fruit. Environmentalists have already enforced a transparency requirement for companies, which means that retailers must disclose what happens to their unsold goods. This amendment to the Recycling Management Act last year came about as a result of the great public pressure on the Federal Environment Ministry after Greenpeace research uncovered the destruction of new goods in an Amazon warehouse.
A mountain of 500 million items of clothing
Not surprisingly, the changed situation for retailers due to the coronavirus is further exacerbating the problems. According to estimates by the textile (BTE), shoes (BDSE) and leather goods (BLE) trade associations, a mountain of half a billion unsold fashion items will pile up in stationary retail by the end of January.
But what should happen to the majority of the accumulated seasonal goods is unclear; It is no secret that H&M unceremoniously burned clothing that had not been sold in the past. The scandal of destroyed goods is only a symptom of a consumer society that has gotten out of hand and in which far more is produced than can ever realistically be consumed. At the latest in the pandemic, this economic behavior hit the wall with its “a lot helps a lot” approach.
“Don’t stir up false needs”
“With its grotesquely accelerated cycles, the fast fashion industry has degraded millions of unsold T-shirts, pants, shoes and other clothing to disposable items in the pandemic,” said Viola Wohlgemuth, Greenpeace expert on consumption, on Thursday in “Welt” and warned that flawless, resource- and energy-intensive textiles could end up in the garbage after all – an absolutely avoidable environmental pollution. Instead of devaluing clothes with a permanently shortened half-life, the fashion industry must use the Corona crisis to develop business models that prevent the waste of resources and do not stir up false needs, demands Wohlgemuth. “In a country of 82 million people, how can 500 million unsold garments accumulate in a few weeks?”
A good answer to this is difficult to imagine. Consumers can do their part and withdraw from this system – by preferring to share, swap and repair.