How Sustainable Is It To Rent Clothing?

How Sustainable Is It To Rent Clothing?

March 3, 2022
Dom Challis

Sustainability in fashion is a topic that has been debated for years now. Fashion lovers have been trying to embrace sustainable fashion solutions, but no one really knows the correct answer to sustainability within fashion. One of the more recent ideas is clothing rental sites.

Renting clothes means far fewer clothes will be thrown out, but instead returned, cleaned, and reused. Therefore, it’s easy to see why a lot of people consider this method as a new form of sustainable fashion.

Some UK clothing rental sites include: The Devout, By Rotation, and Hire Street. Since it became a trend, many fashion brands have began their own rental service such as Selfridges Rental, Levi’s and Ralph Lauren have recently announced an upcoming rental range.

Clothing rental platforms just began to seem like a reasonable and smart method of maintaining sustainability in fashion. However, a recent study has found that renting clothing has a larger carbon footprint than we anticipated and it’s not the eco-friendly solution we were hoping for.

The study was published by the Finnish scientific journal – Environmental Research Letters. It measured out the environmental impact of five ways of owning and disposing of clothes, including renting, recycling, resale, wearing items for longer and shorter periods.

The results found that rental was the worse type of textile ownership out of the 5. There are a lot of hidden environmental costs to be found in the delivery and packaging of clothing rentals. A lot of transportation is included with renting as the items are constantly being transported between warehouse and renters. 

A lot of cardboard or plastic is required for packaging the products when they’re sent to the renters. The clothes also need to be properly sanitised and dry cleaned between every use. Plus the emissions cost of having to maintain the warehouse will add up.

It may not be as ecofriendly as we hoped, but there’s no need to completely write off rental altogether. If rental companies can make certain changes, this could help reduce the carbon emissions they’re producing.

Transport emissions could be seriously reduced if the clothes are transported using electrical vehicles or bikes. If warehouses only rented items to people who live close and renting could eventually become carbon-friendly if more items were rented out to more people over time.

For now, an effective way to stay sustainable is to make sure you purchase good quality clothes and you wear the clothes you have for as long as possible. Once your done with certain clothes – resell or donate them, never throw them away. 

For the best deals on the best quality clothes, shop at The Hoxton Trend right here.