The Ethics Of Renting Clothes And Accessories

One of the rising trends in the fashion industry is moving towards sustainable and ethnically sourced materials for clothing with one popular option being renting clothing. The concept of rental clothing and/or accessories isn’t a new concept but is becoming more popular as an ethical alternative to shopping for clothes you’ll only wear a couple of times.

In the past, there were a couple of clothing and accessory rental services that started with the main goal of giving people the chance to add new temporary pieces to their wardrobe. Some of the services also offer an option for the customer to purchase the piece instead of returning it. This newer business model may seem sustainable from the perspective of the customer but behind the scenes, practices are less than ethical or eco-friendly. There are a couple of things to consider whether online rental services can help reduce your carbon footprint.

The Sustainable Appeal To Renting Clothing 

What started as a way to temporarily refresh a wardrobe has now expanded into a new form of common fashion retail with many companies to choose from. If you don’t believe me, the numbers can speak for themselves. The online fashion rental market is expected to grow more than 10% annually until 2027. This growth can be done by continuing the supply chain disruption, sustainable-conscious consumers, and the declining spending power. The growing trend in clothing rental is proving to be profitable as the global online clothing rental market surpassed $1.26 billion in 2019 and is expected to be valued at $2.08 billion by 2025. 

The Questionable Ethics Behind The Scenes 

A majority of rental fashion companies maintain being eco-friendly claiming their business model of reusing clothing or accessories can disrupt the process of producing and buying new items. Renting clothes is also a convenient solution for saving space and money with wardrobe items. This convenience comes at a cost with the pollution behind the scenes according to the ‘Innovative recycling or extended use? Comparing the global warming potential of different ownership and end-of-life scenarios for textiles’ study. The study to evaluate different ways people, own and dispose of clothes with additional assessments of recycling, re-selling, and renting. The results of the study indicated that renting was the lease eco-friendly process due to the pollution from transportation and dry cleaning. There is an excessive amount of pollution generated by the rental clothing business that not many customers think about from the cost of transport and cleaning. The transportation for the rented item will typically be delivered by car to the recipient’s house among various delivery options like postal services, cycle couriers, and electric vehicles requiring a ton of polluting fuel. Many rental companies dry clean items between rental clients with many companies using damaging chemicals that can pollute the water. 

Rental Companies Improving Practices 

More fashion rental companies are becoming more transparent with their practices while addressing their previous practices to work on new initiatives to become more eco-friendly. Some rental companies opt to use liquid cleaning to avoid environmental damage. The fashion rental industry is also helping tackle massive climate-related issues in the fashion industry by helping to deter over-consumption while still having a revolving wardrobe of updated options without wasting old wardrobe pieces. The final conclusion of the study indicated that rental companies can be climate-friendly as they develop more eco-friendly practices as they are a relatively new business.

What’s The Best Option For Me? Only you can answer that question as you need to do what is best for your lifestyle but now, you’ll be more informed on your options. Have any recommendations or suggestions on what you would like use to cover next, leave a comment below. 




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