Hands up if you have a closet full of clothes you never wear.
Hands up if you always complain about having no clothes.
Ladies, I hope you all have two hands up. For most of you, this paradox is all too familiar. You’re acutely aware of the devastating effect it has on your wallet—and storage problems—but do you ever stop to consider what it’s doing to the environment?
When it comes to being sustainable, clothing isn’t always at the top of the list. In our attempts to be green, we shop at farmer’s markets, use hessian bags and ride our bikes to work. Seldom do we stop to reflect before clicking pay at the online checkout.
But did you know fashion is the third most polluting industry in the world and the second largest consumer of water? Yep, it takes a lot of resources to make that LBD you just had to have.
To put it in perspective, it takes 20,000L of water to make 1kg of cotton and 1kg of cotton will make one t-shirt and jeans. But that’s not all. The production of textile fibres uses 20 billion pounds of chemicals per year. The World Bank estimates almost 20% of global industrial water pollution comes from the treatment and dyeing of textiles. When you think that 663 million people lack access to safe drinking water, it makes it hard to indulge in ‘fast fashion.’
At least, that’s what Claire Yow and her four female partners found when drawing up a business plan for their startup, The Volte. Launched earlier this year, The Volte is an online apparel rental that introduces the shared economy to the fashion industry. In essence, it aims to make high-end clothing accessible without contributing to the environmental footprint of the fashion industry.
While designer dress rental is nothing new, The Volte is different. Rather than renting from a business, The Volte creates a platform for users to both rent and lease their garments. It allows users to create a profile, set their own prices and list their items for free. Sellers can make cash from their rentals and buyers can save cash by renting the garment for a fraction of the cost.
Australians throw away over 500,000 tonnes of textiles each year. The majority of clothing thrown away can be recycled or reused, but sadly more than 88% ends up in landfill. The Volte wants to change this statistic. By sharing our barely-worn designer dresses, The Volte aims to increase the hanger life of our favourite garments. And since they’re saving the planet—and saving our cash—we’re totally on board.