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Sewing judge wants to pull wool over us amid skyrocketing fast fashion waste



Scots threw away an average of 116 pieces of clothing in 2023, an increase of 61% since 2022 – and replaced them with even more than before.

The British Wool research follows news that textiles such as clothing are the most environmentally damaging type of household waste in Scotland.

While textiles and shoes account for less than 5% of the weight of the household waste, they mount up to around a third of the carbon footprint generated, according to Zero Waste Scotland.

The environmental body said Scots “need to rethink our consumption of goods”.

The plea has been echoed by Grant who warned that discarded clothing has an “incredibly” harmful effect on the planet and people’s health.

“We just don’t care and we’re very thoughtless when it comes to our clothing and that is causing huge problems,” he said.

“Clothing recycling in this country is filled with garments which still have their tags on because they’re brand new. As consumers, there are lots of things that we can do – simply think more carefully about why you’re buying it, where the material comes from and who has made it. Think about what happens to it when you stop wanting to wear it.”

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Despite throwing more clothes away, wardrobes are still getting bigger, with Scots owning an average of 87 pieces of clothing, up from 73 pieces in 2022.

Often thought to be the most concerned about environmental changes, Gen Z was found to be the guiltiest generation for throwing away clothes, averaging 20 pieces per month or 240 pieces a year. What’s more, only 7% of Gen Zs would expect to keep a garment for more than five years.

On the other hand, those aged 55 and over throw away the least amount of clothes at just four per month on average or 48 pieces a year.

Reasons for clothing being thrown away include items being faulty, stained or becoming ill-fitting.

Scots could support their homegrown industries and help to save the planet by buying garments made of natural materials, according to Mark Hogarth, global brand ambassador at Harris Tweed Hebrides.

“Here we have got an incredible natural resource in wool and the production is a very high standard,” he said.

“Although some garments made of natural materials may be a little more expensive, when you project on to five to 10 years or longer in the case of some wool or tweeds, all of a sudden it might not seem so expensive. The better-quality clothing you have, the less you need.

“It’s quite easy to acquire good-quality wool garments in resale or charity shops but I think sometimes you’ve got to make that investment as well.”

Wool uses 18% less energy than polyester and nearly 70% less water than cotton to produce 100 jumpers. Products made out of synthetic fibres can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade while wool biodegrades in a fraction of that time.

British Wool recently opened new premises in Selkirk in the Scottish Borders which is now the biggest wool-grading depot in the UK.

“Our purpose is to champion

British wool and the farmers who produce this amazing, natural fibre, whilst promoting every aspect of wool production and usage,” said spokesperson Haldi Kranich-Wood.

“We work closely with some of the top brands in the UK to support their sustainability credentials and provide materials to ensure consumers have the option to shop consciously,” said Kranich-Wood.

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“This incredibly complex natural fibre provides many attributes that plastic fibres just can’t match. Its natural crimp and elasticity endures constant wear and compression, and resists crushing and matting. This also means wool garments will last much longer than cheaper, synthetic alternatives.”

Zero Waste Scotland said that fast fashion is often produced via long supply chains which generate large volumes of greenhouse gas emissions at every stage.

This might include the production of the yarn or the fabric and then the manufacture of the finished product, such as washing and dying. Each of these steps will create greenhouse gases in the country of production.

“We need to rethink our consumption of goods and materials,” said Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland.

“The average Scot consumes more than twice the sustainable amount of materials per year and our throwaway culture encourages that approach. It’s an environmental imperative that we turn this around.”

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