French Clothing Repair Program Pays People to Reduce Waste
Darning socks and mending trousers may seem like things of the past, but throwing clothing away every time it has a rip or a hole creates a lot of waste. What if, instead of buying something new, you could get credit for having items you already own repaired?
In France, now you can. The country’s new clothing repair program is intended to reduce waste, with the government offering a “repair bonus” for people to have their clothes mended.
Each year in France, around 772,000 tons of clothes are discarded, with two-thirds of them — many items likely perfectly wearable — adding to the heaps of usable “trash” in landfills, reported The Guardian.
Starting in October, those joining the program will be able to receive a credit of $6.73 to $28.05 for bringing their shoes and clothes to a cobbler or workshop to be mended.
“It could encourage exactly the people who have bought, for example, shoes from a brand that makes good-quality shoes or likewise good-quality ready-to-wear to want to have them fixed instead of getting rid of them,” State Secretary for Ecology Bérangère Couillard said at a news conference, as CNN reported. “And that is exactly the objective, to create a circular economy for shoes and textiles so that products last longer, because in government we believe in the second life of a product.”
The government will fund the program with contributions of about $173 million over a period of five years.
Couillard encouraged “all sewing workshops and shoemakers to join the system,” reported BBC News.
“The goal is to support those who carry out repairs,” with “the hope of recreating jobs,” Couillard said, as The Guardian reported.
Eco-organization Refashion will run the program, saying their goal is to not only encourage consumers to reuse and repair items, but to lower how many they purchase and donate articles they don’t want to keep.
Beginning last year, the French government began to try and improve the textile industry, which creates an enormous amount of pollution through fast fashion.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the fashion industry is the second biggest user of water on the planet and produces 10 percent of worldwide carbon emissions. The industry is also associated with labor, poverty and gender concerns, with women making up 80 percent of the supply chain’s workforce.
“What I hope is that the French will become aware of what we can see, that is the impact of the textile industry across the world today,” said Couillard, as reported by CNN. “So they can themselves realize the aberration of the way in which we now consume.”