“We must re-use whatever we can, especially, the items like clothing, whose production results in air and water pollution. Reduce, reuse, and recycling should be the new mantra. “
Approach any teenager from a reputed college and ask him if he would appreciate wearing clothes that were used, owned by someone else in the past. The answer would be a definite NO unless of course, you tell him Salman had worn the concerned clothing in Ek Tha Tiger.
They would probably doubt your intentions and think you are trying to get rid of some dead man’s clothing. That’s because these days’ people prefer to buy garments according to social media trends, use them twice or thrice, keep them in a closet, and forget them after a few months.
‘Reduce, reuse, and recycle’ should be the new mantra
The Cosmic Ecological Trust and Maitri Foundation had organized an event in Dombivali on the eve of Earth Day. Ecologist Dr. Udaykumar Padhye and Maitri Foundation’s Chairperson Srushti Gujarathi highlighted some interesting issues. The need to reduce over-consumption of clothes, and promoting the use of used garments were the areas of focus.
“These days, instead of wearing the outfit, people are more interested in getting them photographed as a style statement. Plus, to make matters worse, buyers prefer synthetic garments over cotton. These are not just bad for the skin, but for Mother Nature as well. The expanding garment industry happens to be one of the major contributors to increasing air, water pollution. How much more should we expect our body to adjust to this pollution? The quality of drinking water is degrading in some areas due to synthetic textile manufacturing units” said Srushti Gujarathi, while interacting with audiences during the event. Renowned activist Nirmala Padhye, Dr. Ashok Jain, Veterinary Physician Dr. Manohar T Akole, Harishchandra Devrukhkar, Pushkar Gaitonde, Pooja Patel, also graced the event with their presence.
India should look at the initiatives taken by the US and the UK
A study conducted by the Green Alliance charity (Britain) has pointed out that the apparel manufacturing industry consumes fresh water and releases plastic as well as chemical pollutants in the ocean. Humanmade fibers found in the stomachs of aquatic creatures serve as evidence. The only solution to this problem is reducing the amount of clothing that everyone buys and keeping the existing ones in use for a longer time by either wearing or donating them.
Developing countries like the US and the UK are facing the same issues. However, their governments are taking the problem much more seriously. As per a report released by the BBC, Parliamentarians in the UK want garment manufacturers to do more when it comes to collecting and recycling used garments from consumers. A very few big international brands like Marks & Spencer, Adidas, Bottletop, etc. are taking the initiative to buy back and recycle.
The US has several organizations like Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army that accept clothing as a donation and re-sell them at lowest prices possible. There are several local resale stores as well as consignment shops doing the job well. Developing countries in Africa are not far behind. As much as 80 percent of the clothing sold in Uganda happens to be recycled.
“If you feel the urge to buy something, you must first ask yourself if you ‘really’ need it. Identify the reasons that trigger impulse buying. We must re-use whatever we can, especially, the items like clothing, whose production results in air and water pollution. Reduce, reuse, and recycling should be the new mantra. It has become crucial to ‘save’ if you wish to save the natural resources for the generations to come. We must stop intervening in natural processes with pollution,” said Gujarathi while sharing her opinion on the issue.
No concrete plans
Unfortunately, most of the wealthy municipal corporations in India do not even have their recycling centers for plastic. Thus, expecting any answers from the bureaucracy regarding plans and initiatives for garment recycling would be a sheer waste of time. Unwanted (torn) clothes in India often end up in landfills or are burned along the street.
Garbage collectors only show interest in keeping clothing that can be re-sold. Fortunately, several startups in India trade in unwanted clothes these days. But, this is just the beginning. Let’s stop looking at clothes as single-use items. It is up to the citizens to sell or donate unwanted clothes to NGOs and buy recycled ones as far as possible.
By: Nitten Gokhaley
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