Fast Fashion and Environmentalism

Dynamic industry, dynamic solutions

Given the dynamism of the apparel industry, there’s a need for dynamic solutions as well.

One company in New York has sought to do its part by promoting textile recycling. Wearable Collections, founded in 2004 by Adam Baruchowitz, provides New York City residents with bins to recycle unwanted clothing, shoes and household textiles.

Baruchowitz jumped on the opportunity to redirect residents’ clothing waste after learning from a 2004 study that nearly 400 pounds of textiles end up in New York’s waste stream.

“As humans, we are more reactive than proactive,” Mr. Baruchowitz said in an interview. “But there is a lot of exciting innovation on the horizon.”

Emphasizing the role consumers have to play in driving fashion companies’ production, he said clothing recycling will play a significant part in nudging the industry from being linear to more circular.

In addition to providing second-hand clothing to global markets, Wearable Collections sorts its donations into groups of textiles that are then used as rags or shredded for low-grade fiber products.

Baruchowitz shared a hope for the future. “Maybe there will be a shift in the perception of second-hand as being a better item than first-hand just because people are happy nothing new went into that item.”

Wearable Collections’ business model points to an important truth: That consumers have a powerful role to play in responding to environmental issues created by the fashion industry.

Good On You is another company aiming to change retail consumers’ decisions.

Founded in 2015, the company works with retailers to promote sustainable products by rating brands according to a set of metrics relating to the planet, animals and people. Since its founding, the company has rated approximately 2,200 brands.

“Our vision,” the company’s media kit states, “is to make fashion fair and sustainable. All around the world, people use Good On You to check the ethics of fashion brands. This drives an increasing number of brands to put ethics and sustainability at the heart of their business.”