When was the last time you tossed an old, unwanted piece of clothing into the garbage? If you're like most Canadians, it wasn't long ago.
North Americans discard a mind-boggling amount of apparel — 12 billion kilograms of textiles every year, according to Value Village. And although we often donate to outlets such as the Salvation Army or Value Village, as much as 85 per cent of cast-offs end up in landfill sites.
With stylish, inexpensive clothing readily available at fast fashion chains such as Zara, H&M and many other retailers, consumers can't seem to get enough. By some estimates, we buy four times as much clothing as in 1980.
Don't be seen in the same outfit twice
"People are buying more all of the time, and that's a really, really big problem," says Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion in London. She points to social media as a factor that contributes to overconsumption.
"One of the things that many people on social media say is that there's a huge pressure to present an endlessly new or changing image of yourself," Fletcher notes. "Wearing the same piece twice on your Instagram feed or Facebook or whatever, is a bit of a no-no."
On the other side of the problem, though, is a growing community of fashion entrepreneurs who see an opportunity. Here are three Canadian startups that are taking aim at textile waste.