How Consumers Manage Textile Waste
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Past studies have considered the impact of fashion on consumer textile disposal behaviour, but have focused mainly on drivers of clothing waste. There is a paucity of studies that have sought to model consumer attitudes and behaviours regarding fashion interest, shopping frequency, and disposal methods. The main goal of this thesis was to collect information regarding the largely unexamined topic of textile waste management in Canada and to link consumer waste disposal behaviour with an individual’s level of fashion interest. This study conducted an electronic survey to ask 410 people in Ontario with varying demographic characteristics how they currently manage their textile waste including personal reuse, resell, swap, take-back, donation and disposal. A 5-point Likert scale was used to ask participants sixteen questions about their fashion interest and shopping frequency to develop a fashion scale and assign each participant a fashion index value. Statistical analysis was used to establish whether there is a link between textile waste behaviour and fashion index. The results indicate that an individual’s fashion index is dependent on gender and age and that there are significant differences in the way consumers with high fashion index (fashion consumers) and consumers with low fashion index (non-fashion consumers) manage their textile waste. While the majority of participants donate and dispose of unwanted clothes, fashion consumers are more interested in, and more likely to participate in, alternative methods to removing unwanted textiles. Although fashion and especially fast-fashion consumers acquire the most garments, and this inevitably leads to more unwanted garments kept for a shorter time period than non-fashion consumers, fashion consumers were found have a lower disposal rate than non-fashion consumers (38 percent to 50 percent, respectively). Results also show that while personal reuse and donation are widely practiced, so too is disposal. Many consumers demonstrated a lack of awareness about alternative channels, including take-back, reselling and swapping. However, the interest and willingness of fashion consumers to participate in these channels suggests opportunities to shift textile disposal behaviour so that the amount of waste going to landfill can be reduced. The results establish the influence of a fashion scale on consumer textile waste management practices in Ontario, Canada, which can be applied to other regions as well. Since there is usually a discrepancy between self-reported behaviour and actual behaviour, these results can only be seen as a tendency, but they nonetheless show that further research is needed into how alternative channels for textile removal can be fostered as well as the effect that alternative channels for extending the use of a garment will have on its condition and therefore its final disposal.