Listen out for #Hashtag Hong Kong, on Sunday mornings. Our new programme updates the old format and content of Letter to Hong Kong.
The focus will be on issues affecting civil society, as we hear from representatives of NGOs, associations, statutory bodies and non-profit groups.
And each week there'll also be a musical choice*!
(Sundays 8.15am - 8.25am)
*The song is not included in its entity in the podcast due to copyright issue.
Letter for RTHK ‘#impact”:
The New Year is a time of reflection, a time for change… it’s about new beginnings, new intentions, new opportunities.
Yet for many of us, thanks mainly to powerful consumer marketing, it has boiled down to basically just mean: ‘new stuff.’
And with clothing, like with many consumer products, this interpretation is disastrous for our society and planet’s wellbeing.
Fashion is one of the most powerful industries in the world. Everyone on earth wears clothes – all six billion of us – which means that fashion operates on an inherently troubling scale.
About a hundred billion garments are produced each year, or almost 200,000 per minute. I did a quick unscientific calculation and that’s roughly enough clothing to wrap around the Earth’s equator… 1,248 times.
I think it’s worth reflecting on the impact of this, because a lot of us don't relate our fashion impulses to our environmental footprint. So here are a few more statistics to help paint the picture:
The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter of clean water in the world.
It contributes to around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and consumes more energy than aviation and shipping combined.
It takes 10 square metres of land to grow the cotton for one pair of jeans.
And up to 3 kilograms of chemicals to produce 1 kilogram of cotton.
Around 70 million barrels of oil a year are used to make polyester.
About 150 million trees are cut each year to produce fibres for clothing.
Now, you would think with the vast amount of natural resource that is sacrificed to make them, our clothes would be precious to us.
But unfortunately, we know that's not the case.
Instead, globally one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second. And less than 1% of material used to make clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life.
In Hong Kong alone, we landfill around 340 tonnes of textiles per day – and roughly half of it is clothing.
Meanwhile, fast fashion keeps pumping out new cheaply-made clothes and we keep buying it.
Our clothing habits are costing far more than what’s on the price tag. But there is hope – the fashion industry is starting to shift gears. And as individuals, we can all help.
Here are some ways to set the right kind of intentions this lunar new year.
We all love a good clearout; out with the old, in with the new. But ‘out’ doesn’t need to mean ‘throw it away.’ There are other ways to deal with clothes that aren’t working for you any longer:
We are fortunate to live in a city with heaps of skilled tailors and seamstresses, use them to alter old clothes for a better fit or style.
Give clothes to family or friends. Hold swap parties. Sell, on resale platforms like Hula and Retykle.
Please don’t just drop a bag of mixed clothes on the doorstep of your local charity, unannounced. The charities often don’t have the manpower to sort through donations one by one and find what they can use, and it can end up being a burden on them and going to the landfill anyway.
If you can’t find your clothes a new owner, then Redress can help you. Drop off your unwanted clothing in one of our public collection boxes and we will find homes or solutions for them, based on their quality and condition. The majority of what we receive gets redistributed to those same local charities – but we only send them exactly what they need and ask for. Reducing the burden on them.
Of course, sometimes you just need, or want, some new clothes – and new year’s is a peak time for this. But if we reframe ‘new’ as ‘new to me’, it opens a whole world of sustainable shopping! I’m talking about the burgeoning secondhand market that’s the hottest trend in fashion retail. There are already dozens of places to buy stylish preloved clothes in Hong Kong – we have a whole list on our website! And it's affordable, super sustainable, and fun.
But ultimately, the most sustainable thing you can wear is what’s already in your closet. So this lunar new year, try on a new… perspective! Give your own clothes a new life -- and find ways to love and wear what you have already. Because our clothes ARE precious.