Redress transforms wardrobe waste
Environmental NGO’s ‘Get Redressed Month’ culminates in record-breaking 24-hour Sort-a-thon with more than 2,100 man-hours required to sort over 15.4 tonnes of unwanted clothes
Environmental NGO Redress completed their biggest ‘Get Redressed Month’ to date which saw public awareness adverts across the MTR, the creation of a brand new school resources pack and online resource hub, and 118 companies, clubs and schools hosting a total of 187 collection points for unwanted clothing across Hong Kong. The campaign has turned October into the official month to take action against textile waste and aims to make clothes recycling accessible and transparent, whilst tackling the issue of over-consumption through public engagement activities.
390 boxes of unwanted clothing totalling over 15.4 tonnes was collected throughout October, following which Redress brought together 419 volunteers from 22 companies, including Gap Inc., JLL, KPMG, King & Wood Mallesons, Li & Fung, Marriott, Swire Properties, PVH and UBS together with teams of community volunteers to carefully sort through all the clothing in their first ever Sort-a-thon on 21 and 22 November. With 20 sorting streams, including re-sale, re-use, recycling and downcycling, volunteers were brought face to face with a mountain of clothing waste and challenged to assess every single item of clothing to decide how best to maximise its lifespan and minimise environmental impact.
An estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste is generated around the world each year and this figure is expected to increase by 60% between 2015 and 2030[i]. China’s recent Singles’ Day on 11 November saw online sales reach a shocking new record of US$38.4 billion in just 24 hours[ii], and the Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales in the US (on 28 to 29 November) are predicting a 25 per cent increase from 2018[iii]. Rising levels of consumption have led to a devastating effect on the planet’s finite resources, so raising awareness is critical to create a shift in consumer mind-sets and spark behavioural change en-masse.
Christina Dean, Founder and Chair of Redress, explains, “What we have done through our Get Redressed campaign is to provide a mirror on the problems and solutions of what is a global issue. Clothing waste rates have hit the roof – the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles are landfilled or incinerated every second[iv]. We need consumers to immediately recognise their role; by being more responsible with their consumption, keeping their clothes in use for longer, before finally putting their unwanted clothes into the recycling system, and not into landfill.”
During the Get Redressed Sort-a-thon, which took place at Swire Properties’ Berkshire House, the Redress team and over 400 volunteers from corporates and the community tirelessly sorted clothes in four-hour shifts across two 12-hour days.
“We are delighted to be the venue sponsor of Redress’ inaugural Sort-a-thon, to further support their mission in reducing textile waste in Hong Kong. Last month, we engaged our staff and our tenants during the Get Redressed Clothing Drive by placing collection points around our office buildings – a meaningful programme that was closely aligned with our sustainable development vision. Today, I’m pleased to see more than 50 of Swire Properties’ passionate Community Ambassadors participating in the Sort-a-thon as this is an opportunity to learn more about environmental issues related to fashion, and to also understand where their donations are headed,” says Dr. Raymond Yau, General Manager, Technical Services and Sustainable Development, Swire Properties.
Of the 20 different clothing streams at the Sort-a-thon, the charity donation stream is one of the largest and Redress partnered with 19 charities to provide carefully sorted clothing that meets the exact needs of their beneficiaries, as well as each organisation’s individual capacity. “ImpactHK are very proud to partner with Redress. The work they do is outstanding, plus the Get Redressed Sort-a-thon greatly supports our organisation and helps the homeless and less fortunate in Hong Kong,” says Jeff Rotmeyer, Founder of ImpactHK. Beneficiaries of the Get Redressed Sort-a-thon included refugees, the homeless, migrant workers, children and families living in poverty and even animals in need.
In addition to supporting charitable organisations, Redress is committed to finding solutions for the bottom layer of clothing which cannot be re-used or re-purposed and can therefore only be recycled or downcycled. A small percentage of clothing from the Sort-a-thon will be recycled locally by The Billie System, where the collected garments will be turned into recycled fibres and spun into new yarn.
As part of Redress’ mission to inspire consumers, the success of this year’s inaugural school pack proves there is an appetite for information around this often overlooked environmental issue. 21 schools not only donated clothing, they also participated in a variety of activities including designing posters, hosting secondhand shops and Get Redressed days in school, and completing home wardrobe surveys. Whilst the volume of clothing collected throughout Get Redressed Month is a significant achievement, the true impact is the number of people, both young and old, who have engaged with the campaign to drive a circular future for fashion. “Seeing what people discard is a real eye-opener. We often think we have nothing to wear, but the truth is, we all have too many clothes. With climate change being so critical, we must get engaged in our role,” expressed Wendy Chan, a volunteer with JLL at this year’s Get Redressed Month Sort-a-thon.
Volunteers were treated to live music provided by DJ Mengzy, DJ Benny Cullen, DJ Katie Abrams and DJ Koppa, water by Urban Spring, beer by Peroni, cold brew coffee by Sofe Coffee, energy bars by Eat Natural and food by MANA! and PizzaExpress.
The Get Redressed Secondhand Pop-up Shop will be back early next year, and will be overflowing with Redress’ favourite secondhand and sample stock outfits, carefully selected from the donated clothes during the Get Redressed Month clothing drive. The Pop-up Shop will offer men’s, women’s and children’s clothes and accessories from designer, vintage and high street brands with prices starting at just HK$50. Choosing to shop secondhand with Redress not only helps reduce the carbon footprint of the garment by 82%[v], all money raised through Pop-up Shop sales provide critical support for Redress’ work to reduce textile waste, minimise energy and water consumption and ultimately promote a circular economy for fashion.
[i] “Pulse of the Fashion Industry – Global Fashion Agenda.” https://globalfashionagenda.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Pulse-of-the-Fashion-Industry_2017.pdf. Accessed 27 Nov. 2019.
[ii] “Singles’ Day sales are no cause for optimism – when Chinese ….” 16 Nov. 2019, https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3037863/singles-day-sales-are-no-cause-optimism-when-chinese-consumerism. Accessed 19 Nov. 2019.
[iii] “Black Friday Predictions for 2019 | BlackFriday.com.” 21 Aug. 2018, https://blackfriday.com/news/black-friday-predictions. Accessed 20 Nov. 2019.
[iv] “One garbage truck of textiles wasted every second: report ….” 28 Nov. 2017, https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/news/one-garbage-truck-of-textiles-wasted-every-second-report-creates-vision-for-change. Accessed 20 Nov. 2019.
- Images – https://www.dropbox.com/sh/jbup5bz7wfal8mr/AAB-5na0uEdq2EYZq5QxnRsEa?dl=0
- About Redress www.redress.com.hk Redress is a Hong Kong based environmental charity with a mission to prevent and transform textile waste in the fashion industry. Through our programmes we work directly with the next generation of fashion designers, industry professionals and consumers to showcase the value of waste and catalyse the transition to a circular economy for fashion – ultimately reducing the industry’s water, chemical and carbon footprints.