Solutions: Clothing and the Fashion Industry


  • 5★ – Advocate for clothing related large-scale solutions.
  • 4★ – Don’t buy clothes you don’t need. It’s the easiest way to reduce. Keep wearing the same clothes for as long as you can.
  • 3★ – Purchase used clothing. That includes second-hand, but also third, fourth, and so on. This is especially important for kids that grow in and out of clothes quickly. Families can also simply exchange clothes – buying unisex clothing helps with that. For fancy events, rent clothes instead of purchasing them.
  • 3★ – Repair clothes. Try to repair clothes or find someone that will. If it can’t be done, then recycle.
  • 2★ – Make an inventory of your clothes. Update this list often to see how it changes over time.
  • 2★ – Get rid of clothes you don’t use. To extend a reusable garment’s lifetime, sell or donate it. If the garment isn’t reusable or repairable, then it should be recycled.
  • 2★ – When the first 2 Rs aren’t possible, take advantage of good clothing recycling systems. Not everyone is blessed with good recycling programs, so make sure to use them. Ensure the recycling facility doesn’t just ship the clothing abroad. 
  • 1★ – Wash and dry clothes reasonably. Only wash clothes when dirty and avoid using dryers.
  • Governments: Implement a carbon tax for clothing production and disposal. A higher carbon tax will make high-impact products less desirable and increase the value of carbon credits. Increased focus on acquiring carbon credits within the waste management sector can increase reuse rates, improve recycling efficiency, and disincentivize international clothing waste exports.
  • Governments: Incentivize businesses to “reduce by design” with improved policies. Disposal-friendly design can help businesses produce durable, resource-efficient, reusable, and recyclable products. Extended producer responsibility, taxes on single-use products, and bans on wasteful packaging schemes are 3 policy changes that can incentivize more sustainable business practices.
  • Governments: Ban businesses from destroying unsold clothing. This ban can help slow down fast fashion and reduce clothing waste.
  • Governments: Ban international clothing waste exports to countries with weaker waste management systems. Unless receiving countries are specialized in recycling for a specific type of material, sending clothing waste abroad just results in increased emissions and overall pollution.