Voices Of Youth

Clothes can be recycled, too

Recycled clothing collected at H&M’s outlet in Orchard Building.
Recycled clothing collected at H&M’s outlet in Orchard Building.PHOTO: ST FILE

Many Singaporeans are familiar with fast-fashion brands that are in the market.

However, not many people may be aware of the issues associated with some of these brands.

For one thing, the garments sold by some of these Western fashion companies are often produced by low-wage workers in factories where employee safety and welfare are disregarded.

One such factory was Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, where structural defects caused its collapse in 2013, claiming the lives of 1,134 workers.

So what can consumers do to put a stop to such fast-fashion practices? Reduce, reuse and recycle. We often hear the 3Rs in connection with the use of plastic. We can do the same with our clothing, too.

One practice that people can adopt is thrifting, or buying second-hand clothing.

Unfortunately, in Singapore, second-hand clothes tend to carry the stigma of being "out of fashion" or of "poor quality".

For the sake of protecting the environment and reducing the demand for production that relies on low-wage factory workers, it is time we changed our thinking and considered thrifting our clothes from stores like Praisehaven Thrift Store and Refash instead.

Achieving this mindset shift requires education.

For example, schools should hold assembly talks to persuade the youth to support sustainable fashion - making them aware that "fast" is not the only way to consume clothing and encouraging them to make conscientious decisions when purchasing clothes.

Cheyenne Lim Rui Qin, 15

Secondary 4 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2019, with the headline 'Clothes can be recycled, too'. Print Edition | Subscribe