THE SYSTEM ISN'T BROKEN, IT'S WORKING EXACTLY HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO .
THE PROCESS OF MAKING OUR CLOTHES COMES AT THE EXPENSE OF THE PLANET AND ITS PEOPLE .
Factories overproduce by 30-40% each season. There used to be four clothing seasons a year, now there are 50 micro-seasons. Topshop adds 400 items to its online shop a week. Zara produces 56,000 designs a year, that's 200 a day. Globally 800 billion articles of clothing are consumed a year. In the UK, 336,000 tons of textiles end up in landfill a year. In 2030, consumption rates are expected to grow by 60%. The rest is donated to charity shops.
Only 10-20% of clothes donated to charity shops are sold on the retail floor. The rest are sold to the rag trade industry. Vintage shops cherry-pick the best pieces before bundles are sold to the Global South. 70% of exported textiles end up in the African continent. The largest second-hand market in Western Africa, Kantamanto market receives 15 million articles of clothing a week, 40% of which end up in landfill.
Only 12% of material made for clothing gets recycled. That means 92 million tons of textile waste are sent to landfill a year globally. The equivalent of a rubbish truck filled with clothes ending up in landfill every second. £500 billion is wasted on not properly recycling or disposing clothing. 80% of waste in landfill gets incinerated. It's not okay for Western nations to send the Global South their second-hand textiles that are destined for landfill and forced them to pay for the privilege. It's time for change.
FFF started at the end of term on a university campus. Students were throwing away clothes because the donation bins were already full and it was cheaper to buy new ones than to transport them home. The UK is the second largest clothing consumer (per person) in the world. Compared to other consumeristic countries, UK charity shops are never overflowing and if anything, are bare, despite having so many donations. This made us question: Where do all the clothes go?
We started running Swap-Not-Shop events for people to swap instead of buy new clothes. Everyone has that sweater they never wear in the back of their closet that might be someone else's new favourite.
Now we've opened our own shop as a Charitable Community Benefit Society. We're run by the community, for the community. We want to highlight local sustainable designers who work with dead-stock or only make made-to-order pieces with the planet in mind. We want to give back our extra clothes to members of the community who need it. We hope to be the first of many local hubs for people to swap, not shop, to learn how to customise, redesign, and take care of their clothes. We can't wait to go on this journey together.