New YouGov research also reveals one in six millennials keep their clothes for under a year before throwing them away
Fast fashion has transformed the way we shop. The advent of more accessible and affordable fashion means that consumers are shopping more than ever before. The number of garments bought by the average shopper each year grew by 60% between 2000 and 2014 alone. With new lines added on a weekly basis, consumers no longer need to wait for the seasons to change to buy the latest trends. High street chains have come to dominate the market, so much so that fast fashion giant H&M is now twice as valuable as Chanel.
While many welcome the fashion revolution, accidents such as the Rana Plaza tragedy and accusations of exploitation have embroiled popular brands such as Zara, leading to questions over the industry’s ethics. Critics have also highlighted the impact that fast fashion brands have on the environment, fueling demand for cheap, disposable clothing that is carbon-intensive to produce and often ends up in landfill.
The latest YouGov Omnibus research reveals the extent of clothes waste in Indonesia. It finds that two thirds of Indonesian adults (66%) have thrown clothes away at some point in the past year and a quarter (25%) have thrown away more than ten items of clothing in the past year.
Three in ten (29%) have thrown away an item of clothing after wearing it just once and, in the past year alone, 15% have thrown away at least three items that they’ve only worn once.
41% of millennials have purchased at least half of the clothes that they own in the past 12 months
Fashion is big business in Indonesia, with one in ten of those polled (9%) estimating that they own over 100 garments (excluding underwear or accessories). Millennials (those aged between 16 and 34) have the highest proportion of new clothing; 41% of millennials say they have purchased at least half of the clothes that they own in the past year alone. This compares with 17% of baby boomers (those over 55) that say the same.
Millennials are also more likely to throw away clothes than older generations. Nearly one in five millennials (17%) say that, in general, they keep their clothes for under a year before throwing them away. Just 10% of baby boomers say the same.
One in twenty millennials have previously burned unwanted clothes
While passing unwanted clothes on to friends/family and giving them to charity and are common among all Indonesians (done by 66% and 50% of all respondents, respectively), different generations also dispose on unwanted clothes differently.
Millennials are three times more likely to sell unwanted clothes online (12% have done so, whereas 4% of baby boomers have), twice as likely to upcycle unwanted clothing (use unwanted clothing to make new garments) – done by 10% of millennials and 5% of baby boomers, and twice as likely to recycle them (18% of millennials have done so, whereas just 9% of baby boomers have.
One in twenty millennials have also previously burned unwanted clothes (five times more than the 1% of baby boomers who have).
A fifth of millennials have thrown away clothes because they are bored of wearing them
The most popular reason for disposing of clothes is because they no longer fit, which 61% consider grounds for throwing garments away. Other common reasons to throw clothes away are because they’re damaged (chosen by 38%) and because they have developed a fault (selected by 32% of respondents).
Instead, millennials are more likely to throw away clothes because their tastes change. A fifth of millennials (21%) have thrown away clothes because they are “bored of wearing it”, whereas just 16% of boomers have done the same.
YouGov’s Head of Omnibus, Jake Gammon, comments. “Fast fashion brands have been keen to remove their unsustainable label. Yet despite various recycling initiatives by leading labels, this survey highlights just how many clothes go to waste each year in Indonesia. Looking ahead to the future, there is a worrying trend among millennials; their propensity to dispose of clothing at a faster rate than older generations suggests that there is an uphill battle ahead for those keen to tackle this issue head on.”
The bigger picture
At a regional level, Vietnamese and Chinese consumers are the most likely to keep clothes for under a year before throwing them away, where 27% and 23% do so (respectively). By contrast, Australians, Hong Kongers and Singaporeans are the least likely to keep their clothes for under a year – just 4%, 6% and 6% (respectively) say the same.
However, Thais are the most likely to have thrown away more than three items of clothing in the past year that they have only worn once (17% have done so), whereas Chinese consumers are the least likely (8% have done so). On the other end of the scale, as many as 25% of Filipinos, 21% of Malaysians and 21%of Indonesians have not thrown away any items of clothing in the past year.
*Data was collected online by YouGov Omnibus between 20 and 30 October 2017 among 7,439 respondents in Indonesia. Results are representative of the adult online population.
Photo source: Getty Image