How Green is Rental Fashion?

Image: Vince

Fashion (especially fast fashion) is one of the most environmentally-intensive industries and as a consumer, it’s difficult to know how to make more sustainable decisions for your closet. An option that consumers have turned to in recent years is renting clothes for an occasion or period of time through companies like Rent the Runway and Le Tote. However, some sustainability experts are beginning to examine the footprint of clothing rental services and they may not be as green as originally advertised. Elle Magazine recently consulted with experts at MIT and explained that several factors make renting clothes taxing on the planet:

  • Every sequin skirt borrowed must be returned, which means the shipping impact of leasing your wardrobe could be neck-and-neck with that of a fast-fashion shopper.
  • Transportation is now the top source of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, and online shopping is partly to blame.
  • Dry cleaning clothing items after each rental also adds to emissions

Material Waste: Excessive plastic packaging is a big problem among many retail experiences but for rental clothing items that must be continuously repackaged in dry cleaning bags and shipping boxes, the material footprint begins to grow quickly. Since most packaging is not recycled, or cannot readily be recycled, it gets tossed in the trash to head for a landfill.

On a related note, we recommend this article about the problem with sustainability initiatives within the fashion industry. 

 

Why This Matters: All this isn’t to say that renting clothing isn’t the ultimate answer–we just need to fine-tune the logistics to become more closed-loop. However, since one of the biggest problems with fashion is the over-production of items, renting helps solve this problem as consumers can more directly signal their demand for the things they actually want to wear.

Go Deeper: It’s overwhelming when it seems as if there’s no good way to purchase clothing without repercussions for the planet. However, there are some practical steps that can help quell the desire to keep purchasing new clothing. For instance, having more clothing swaps with friends or unfollowing Instagram influencers that can help fuel impulse purchases can both make an impact. Check out this useful article to learn more.

Up Next

Saving Biodiversity Boosts Global Output by Tens to Hundreds of Billions Annually

Saving Biodiversity Boosts Global Output by Tens to Hundreds of Billions Annually

A new study by leading economists and scientists released yesterday makes a strong case for conserving at least 30% of the planet by demonstrating that investing in nature as opposed to using it up yields significantly better economic results as well as saving money that would otherwise be spent on the impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Why This Matters:  Since it is TBT I (Monica) will harken back to 1992’s political mantra — “it’s the economy, stupid.”

Continue Reading 451 words
Recycling Struggling Due to Pandemic and Electronic Waste Breaks Records

Recycling Struggling Due to Pandemic and Electronic Waste Breaks Records

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused turmoil in recycling programs and markets for recycled goodsMeanwhile, a UN report released last week found that electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record of 53.6 million tons or about 16 pounds per person.

Why This Matters: And while residential waste is greatly increasing, fewer materials are being recycled other than cardboard, which is much in demand.  Recycling, like so many other local programs, needs federal financial support and soon.

Continue Reading 523 words
Ford Takes Comprehensive Approach To Sustainability, Will Be Carbon Neutral by 2050

Ford Takes Comprehensive Approach To Sustainability, Will Be Carbon Neutral by 2050

In its annual Sustainability Report, Ford Motors made several key pledges in addition to the promise to be carbon neutral as a company by 2050.  In addition, they will use 100 percent locally sourced renewable energy for all manufacturing plants globally by 2035, aspire to achieve zero air emissions from our facilities, only use recycled and renewable plastics in our vehicles globally and eliminate single-use plastics from our operations by 2030, and achieve true zero waste to landfill across our operations, among other social responsibility commitments.

Why This Matters:  Other car companies have focused on products — Daimler Chrysler, VW, and Tesla come to mind.

Continue Reading 596 words