Roland Mouret, a fashion designer, says every garment produced is placed on a plastic hanger for the transportation of clothing from the factory to the store. Those hangers are very likely to end up in the bin straight after the journey. And they are usually made up of polystyrene, which is not recyclable.
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“Coat hangers are the plastic straws of the fashion industry”, says Mouret.
The fashion designer launched the brand BLUE in partnership with the sustainable hanger company Arch & Hook. These clothes hangers, made up of 20% recycled plastic and 80% plastic collected from the oceans, are 100% recyclable.
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“You can have something that becomes so circular that nothing goes back to the sea”, Mouret told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday. Besides it being ecological, he considers them more durable than the ordinary plastic hangers.
According to the recycling company First Mile, 100m plastic hangers are thrown away in the UK every year. Arch & Hook says this figure can go up to 85bn worldwide. Most of this waste is landfilled and it takes 1,000 years to decompose completely.
Giving a step forward in sustainable fashion through the hangers is quite symbolic. They are utilised from haute couture to international brands regardless of the style or creative input. But each shop wants to have its own branded hangers and logo for all displayed items, which makes it harder to spread across the industry.
It is not so different from supermarkets having their own branded plastic shopping bags or coffee shops having their own cups. And yet today we are charged extra for bags while most coffee shops in London offer a substantial discount on beverages for those customers who bring their own reusable takeaway cup.
London has been home to many environmental protests, from the young who skipped school following Greta Thunberg to the disruptions and delays of services caused by the Extinction Rebellion. Voice of London asked young Londoners about their thoughts on plastic clothes hangers.
It’s exciting to see fashion-enthusiasts aiming to turn their industries greener for a good cause; but, more excitement comes from the customer demanding it. The subsequent step of the war on plastic can very well be on plastic hangers.
Words: Catarina Joele | Infographic: Catarina Joele | Audio: Catarina Joele | Photo: Catarina Joele