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Clothing Sustainability

30 October. Rev Philip Liebelt led the Warrnambool Uniting Church Op Shop Annual Service, telling Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus stories, and talking to the children about trash and treasure. The Op Shop has contributed $1,000,000 to the church’s work in the community over the six and a quarter year history of the shop. A great reason to support Op Shops!

As more and more people are waking up to the serious environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry, people around the world are searching for more sustainable ways to shop. This has led to a huge (and very well deserved!) surge in popularity for second-hand clothes.

Australia’s re-use charities are the biggest network diverting clothing from landfill and currently extend the life of $527m worth of preloved clothes.

Jan Donkersloot and Anthea Meadows in the Anglican All Saints op shop

Buying second-hand clothes helps to keep them in circulation for much longer. This is good for you, and it’s also better for the planet.

The fashion industry is extremely wasteful. Australians buy almost 15kg of clothes every year (or 56 new items) every year and most of it ends up in landfill, according to a recent report, making Australia one of the highest consumers of textiles per capita in the world. At the other end of the fashion cycle, roughly 260,000 tonnes, or 10kg a person, reaches landfill each year.

Only 7,000 tonnes of textiles are recycled in Australia, a very small percentage of clothing purchased.

On top of the huge amount of landfill, the textile industry also relies heavily on fossil fuels and other chemicals. Globally, 98m tonnes of nonrenewable resources are used in the fashion industry, including oil to produce synthetic fibres, fertilisers to grow cotton, and chemicals to produce dye.

In Australia, two-thirds of clothing is made up of synthetic fibres, which are often derived from petroleum.

One of the best ways to keep clothes out of landfill and reduce their impact is to keep them in circulation for longer. Keeping clothes in use for just an extra 9 months can reduce their carbon, water and waste footprint by 20-30%.

Buying second-hand clothes is a super simple and effective way to extend their active lifespan, keep them in circulation and out of landfill.

And, as we approach Christmas, it might impact on what we purchase, and where we purchase from.

Give thanks for the daily opportunities to serve customers, to pray and give witness to God’s love. Give thanks too for the volunteers who work in op-shops, and for all who donate items.

The Guardian

Anglican Focus

National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme

Fashion Journal

How Australia’s op shops are caught up in the cost of living crisis