New report from Zero Waste Scotland shows that clothing is contributing more to climate change than plastic.

Clothing is the most environmentally-damaging type of household waste, accounting for nearly a third (32%) of the carbon impacts of Scotland’s household waste despite making up only a small proportion, by weight (4%) of the waste we bin. 

That’s according to Zero Waste Scotland’s new carbon metric report, which highlights the cost to the climate of the items commonly thrown away from homes in Scotland. 

ZWS data suggests only 5% of people in Scotland are aware that clothing is the worst type of waste for the environment, with 61% saying it’s plastic.

The data also shows that 14% say they think about the environmental impact of a garment before they buy it.

Now, Zero Waste Scotland is teaming up with creative partners, from online influencers to street artists, to highlight the extent of the problem and get people reconsidering our consumption of clothing. 

They include The Rebel Bear, who has created two largescale public artworks based on world-famous paintings in Scotland’s Central Belt. 

Hokusai’s The Great Wave is reworked as a tsunami of wasted clothes which has been painted on a hoarding at the former Debenhams store at the St Enoch Centre on Glasgow’s Argyle Street. In Dundee, another hoarding beside Slessor Gardens shows a new version of Munch’s The Scream with the well-known figure surrounded by piles of new clothing. 

Iain Gulland, Chief Executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: 

“If we’re serious about tackling climate change we need to rethink our consumption of goods and materials. 

“The average Scot consumes more than twice the sustainable amount of materials per year¹, and our throwaway culture encourages that approach. It’s an environmental imperative that we turn this around, and The Rebel Bear’s artworks confront that reality in a really stark, and visually engaging, way. 

“The circular economy gives us the opportunity do things differently without compromising on quality of life, evolving an economy that’s better for both people and planet in which goods and materials are valued and made to last. 

“Our campaign and the thought-provoking content within it is designed to empower everyone in Scotland to cut the environmental impact of our consumption down to size.”