Clothing Waste Impact in Australia & What You Can Do

Clothing waste is one of the biggest environmental issues facing Australia today. The sheer volume of clothing that is thrown away each year is staggering, with Australians throwing away an estimated 6,000 kilograms of clothing every 10 minutes. This is a problem that is not only affecting Australia, but the entire global community. Modern fashion trends and the ‘fast fashion’ industry have led to a dramatic increase in the amount of clothing that is thrown away each year, and this clothing waste is having a significant impact on the environment. 

What is Clothing Waste?

Clothing waste is defined as any clothing or textile that is discarded or thrown away, rather than reused or recycled. Clothing waste can include anything from old clothes, worn socks, broken zippers, and torn fabric. It also includes clothing that is no longer fashionable, or that is no longer suitable for its intended purpose. 

Clothing waste is a major contributor to global waste, with an estimated 100 to 150 billion items production of clothing per year. The number is expected to rise in the future considering the data shows that garments generated annually have doubled since 2000 and exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014.

Impact of Clothing Waste on the Environment in Australia

Clothing waste is having a significant impact on the environment in Australia. The sheer volume of clothing waste being generated each year is putting immense strain on the environment, from the production of the materials used to make clothing, to the disposal of the clothing after it has been used. 

The Production of Clothing

The production of clothing requires a huge amount of energy and resources. The energy required to produce clothing can also be significant. Manufacturing plants require large amounts of energy to operate and fabric dyeing requires large amounts of water. The transportation of clothing to retail stores and other locations also uses energy. Once the clothing has been disposed of, it still requires energy to be transported to landfills and other disposal sites. The production of clothing also requires a large amount of water, with estimates suggesting that it takes up to 2,700 liters of water to produce just one t-shirt and that’s enough drinking water for one person for 900 days.


The production of clothing also has a huge impact on the environment due to the use of hazardous chemicals and dyes. The use of these chemicals has been linked to air and water pollution, as well as the destruction of ecosystems and wildlife.

Disposal of Clothing Waste

The disposal of clothing waste is also having a significant impact on the environment in Australia. It is estimated that around 85% of all clothing waste ends up in landfill, where it takes decades to decompose. This means that the clothing waste that is thrown away is not only taking up valuable landfill space, but it is also releasing harmful toxins and chemicals into the environment. 

The Growing Problem of ‘Fast Fashion’

The growing trend of ‘fast fashion’ is also having a significant impact on the environment in Australia. Fast fashion is defined as the production of cheap, disposable clothing that is designed to be worn for a few weeks, or even days, before being thrown away. This trend is having a huge impact on the environment, as it encourages the production and disposal of clothing on a massive scale. 

Potential Solutions

  1. Recycling and Reusing

    One of the most effective ways to reduce clothing waste is to recycle and reuse clothing. Many stores now offer clothing recycling programs, where people can bring in their old clothing and receive discounts or store credit for their items. In addition, people can donate their unwanted clothing to thrift stores or charities, giving them a second life and helping others in need.

    Australians can also support local textile recyclers who can turn old clothes into new products. This will reduce the amount of clothing waste and help to create jobs in the local economy.

  1. Buy Better Quality Clothing

    Another way to reduce clothing waste is to invest in higher-quality clothing that will last longer. This means buying clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton and wool, as these materials are more durable and biodegradable. It also means avoiding synthetic materials such as polyester or nylon, as these materials are not easily biodegradable.

    It is also important to buy clothes from companies that adhere to ethical and sustainable practices. This includes using recycled materials, reducing water and energy consumption, and implementing fair labor practices.

  1. Reduce Consumption

    Finally, one of the most important ways to reduce clothing waste is to simply reduce consumption. This means shopping less often and buying only what is necessary. Additionally, people can look for clothing made from sustainable materials and invest in pieces that will last.

 Also read: Circular fashion: How to reduce fashion waste


Clothing waste is an environmental crisis that is having a devastating impact on the planet. It is estimated that an average American throws away up to 6,000 kg of clothing per 10 minutes, which leads to air and water contamination, the loss of natural resources, and the waste of money.

The growing trend of ‘fast fashion’ is also having a huge impact on the environment, as it encourages the production and disposal of clothing on a massive scale. It is clear that something needs to be done to address this issue, and it is up to us as individuals, and as a society, to make sure that we are doing our part to reduce clothing waste and protect the environment.

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce clothing waste, such as recycling and reusing, investing in higher-quality clothing, and reducing consumption. By implementing these strategies, it is possible to reduce the environmental impact of clothing waste and help create a more sustainable future.

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