Packaging and Transport

The transport of garments, as with everything else, has increased drastically. With globalization, garments today are likely to have travelled half the world before ending up on our racks. With the rise of fast fashion and online retail, materials and clothes are being imported and exported at a faster rate and in larger quantities than ever before. Manufactures move their factories to countries with cheaper production costs . Above 60% of the world’s clothes are manufactured in developing countries, with Asia producing more than 32% of this (and China leading world supply at 13%). With the rising costs in China, manufacturers move to countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam or Pakistan, where production and labour costs are cheaper. Raw materials are also sourced from different areas such as India or China. Consequently, raw materials could be processed in one country and the textiles could be produced in another, increasing the need for transport. Companies are often blind to where these fabrics originate from and sometimes even where the garments were manufactured.

Garments are transported by ship, train or plane, across the globe and then by truck to get to retail stores. It is difficult to estimate exactly how much fuel is used, but around 90% of clothes are transported by container ship yearly. Garments are sealed in plastic packaging and cardboard boxes, which are tossed upon arrival in stores. Items are also price tagged, contributing to the waste. When we order clothes online, they come in plastic postage bags or boxes, stuffed with tissue paper or bubble wrap, with bits of tape here and there. Shoe boxes also become purposeless once we take the shoes out of them. Sportswear brand Puma has found that by replacing the shoe boxes with recyclable bags, they save 20 million megajoules of electricity, 1 million litres of water and 500,000 litres of diesel per year, and use 65% less paper.

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