I read an interesting article in the WSJ about the outsize impact of clothes-buying on the environment. Apparently, the average American purchases 54 articles of clothing a year. 54! Some quotes:
Wardrobes take a much smaller share of the household purse than they used to. U.S. consumers spend just 3% of their disposable income on clothing, down from 10% in the 1960s, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The downside is that readier access to inexpensive garments encourages shoppers to buy in greater quantities.
Of the roughly 100 billion items of clothing produced each year, more than 50 billion are thrown away and subsequently burned or landfilled within 12 months of being made, according to a recent UBS report.
The fashion sector’s long supply chain cuts across multiple countries and sectors, including petrochemicals for fibre manufacturing, making it more complex for governments to rein in. That is despite the fact that the fashion industry contributes up to 10% of global carbon emissions. By comparison, commercial aviation generates just 2% to 3%, according to Citi analysts.
Reducing the amount of clothing sold globally will become an even bigger challenge as consumers in emerging countries develop a taste for fast fashion. In 2006, Chinese shoppers bought 14 items of apparel every year, but this number had more than doubled by 2019, according to UBS. Americans’ purchases also increased over the period, but not by as much—from 48 to 54 items a year.
So, how many articles of clothing did YOU purchase in the last year? I bought probably more than usual because the year started with me 6 months out from pregnancy and giving birth, but also less, because, like most people, I wasn’t going out as much. Since I track all my expenses for budgetary reasons, it wasn’t that hard to look this up.
- 5/11/21 – Gap shorts $36
- 4/21/21 – JCrew socks $10
- 2/5/21 – Gaiter $11
- 2/11/21 – Running shoes $143
- 1/10/21 – Running socks $15
- 1/7/21 – Socks $20
- 1/4/21 – Outdoor Voices Sports bra $26
- 12/30/20 – Lululemon tights $100
- 12/30/20 – Lulu sports bra $44
- 12/19/20 – Camisoles (4) $43
- 12/8/20 – Running shoes $121
- 12/4/20 – Amazon shirts (2) $44
- 12/1/20 – Eddie Bauer shirt $33
- 11/28/20 – Pink button shirt $18
- 10/15/20 – Sneakers $94
- 7/17/20 – Sandals $77
- 7/6/20 – JCrew shirt $26
- 7/3/20 – Boden shirt $41
- 5/31/20 Running shoes $132
So, I bought 23 articles of clothing if you count shoes, 18 if you don’t. If you exclude socks as well, I’m down to 15. Not bad, until you consider how unfashionably I dress.
How many garments did you buy last year?