Non-profit raising awareness about cheap clothing and pollution

Published: Jul. 26, 2023 at 11:01 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The good and bad when it comes to buying cheap clothing - it’s great on the budget, but not so great on the environment.

There are people looking at this trend called “fast fashion” and its role in polluting the planet.

Did you know it takes more than 700 gallons of water to make a single t-shirt? Plastic Ocean Project, a local non-profit, has a mission of protecting the environment and they’re calling attention to sustainable fashion.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting of all industries due to highly toxic dyes and metals that are flushed into bodies of clean water.

The industry that’s making the largest impact lately is something known as fast fashion, which are items that are manufactured quickly and sold cheaply. Enticing people to buy more often, which leads to more trash cans filled with semi-worn clothes.

“We buy clothes that are often cheap and a lot of people don’t realize that the more cheap a piece of clothing is, it’s not going to be as durable as it may seem. It ends up breaking down faster and ends up in the landfill, which pollutes our ecosystems,” said Rose Kurian, a high school student who is helping organize an upcoming fashion show called Trash’n Fash’n.

Plastic Ocean Project showed us many ways you can create your own clothing pieces rather than going on frequent shopping sprees. For instance, instead of throwing away old t-shirts they can be made into other clothing pieces or used as a rag to wash your car.

Each year, over 12 million tons of clothing items end up in landfills. Not only do they consume landfills, but they also waste thousands of gallons of water to manufacture.

One mission that the Plastic Ocean Project is hoping to teach others about is microfiber shedding. They said that clothing is a huge contributor to the plastic pollution crisis. For example, when you’re washing your clothes in the washing machine microfibers will shed off your clothing and will enter our waterways and cause pollution that way.

“There are different filters that can be placed on washing machines in order to prevent microfibers and help our waterways,” said Emily Mulvihill, the executive assistant for the Plastic Ocean Project.

Mulvihill also suggested a few products that claim to keep microplastics out of wastewater when you wash your clothes. Those are the Guppyfriend laundry bag and the Cora Ball. She said that these are two of the better-known options.

We know that washing our clothes is essential, but creating our own pieces from recycled materials is a step in the right direction to reducing pollution.

Claire Craddock, a member of the Plastic Ocean Project, made a few clothing items out of recycled materials and told us how much water was saved by doing so.

“This is a shirt that I made last night by hand. It’s made out of three different flannels and one pair of denim shorts. By making this and this denim skirt and not buying it new, you’re saving around 2,000 gallons of water that’s used in the production process of making a new garment out of denim,” said Craddock.

Outfits made of recycled and reused materials will be shown off at the second annual Trash’n Fash’n Show on Saturday, Aug. 5, which is organized by high school students who are helping bring awareness to this issue. To learn more about the event, visit their website.