Rental Fashion – The Solution to Sustainable Clothing?

Posted on 26 June 2020
By Dana Andersen
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With consumers awareness of the environmental impact their clothing can have going up and up, it only makes sense that many of us are looking for more sustainable ways to wear the latest trends.

Clothing rental services used to be reserved for occasionawear, wedding dresses or tuxedo’s, but with Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, and now H&M, providing services to rent clothing for more daily wear, perhaps clothing rentals are the new path to fashion sustainability?

There are already companies like Rent The Runway, Le Tote, and Gwynnie Bee, are already leading the market for rented clothing, but how sustainable is is really?

Every year, around 300,000 tonnes of clothing is put into household bits, of which around 80 percent is incinerated, and the remaining 20 percent sent to landfills. Even if less than half of those clothes were instead rented and returned, that would be a huge affect on the amount thrown away.

Take into consideration how much water and energy is used to create each piece of clothing that gets thrown away, and renting the latest trends definitely seems like the best idea.

Nothing is perfect though, and clothing rental services do have their downsides. For one, every item is sent out and returned again, upping the amount of transportation required to a point that its higher than that of the fast fashion industry.

Along with the shipping, comes the packaging. Many items are shipped on plastic hangers, covered in plastic garment bags. Those that ship in cardboard aren’t much better either, considering they have an incredibly low recycling rate.

Many companies offering rental services also exclusively dry clean their products, which requires more energy than washing our clothes at home.

Overall though, renting is a great step towards a more sustainable fashion industry. Vintage or second hand shopping, buying items that will last a long time, and reusing what you already have are all better options, but for an event, or a new trend you want to give a go, renting is a step in the right direction.