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OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — The global plastic waste problem has made headlines in the last year, implicating industries from beauty to beverages. But fashion’s immense contribution to plastic pollution is often overlooked.
The average American spends $60 a month on clothes and sends 6 pounds of textile waste to landfill. Multiply that by 160 million American women and that’s nearly $10 billion and one billion pounds of landfill waste just from buying and discarding clothes.
These were the facts that Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, founder and chief executive of Lincoln Sarnoff Consulting and former executive director of the 5 Gyres Institute, a conservation non-profit that fights ocean plastic pollution, laid bare on stage at VOICES, BoF’s annual gathering for big thinkers.
Eliminating single-use plastic is one way to help tackle the issue at large. Designers can replace synthetic fabrics with natural ones, such as organic cotton. Consumers can wash clothes less often or wash them by hand to minimise micro-plastic pollution. But the biggest impact will stem from legislative action, said Lincoln Sarnoff.
“We can all support common-sense legislation to better manage plastic pollution, from washing machine filtration to minimum recycling content laws to outright bans,” she said. “We have to. Because there is only one ocean and our future depends on its health.”
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