The Clothing Hanger and its overlooked impact

In 1904, once an American businessman named Albert Parkhouse, realized there was no way to hang his coat after coming home very late. So, he bent a piece of wire into two ovals with the ends twisted together to form a hook and hung his coat on that. 

With this invention, the clothing hanger we know today was born. From thereon, it has been a truly helpful companion, helping us to organize and keep an overview of our clothes. 

However, as much as the clothing hanger benefits us, the use of plastic hangers has negatively impacted our environment for years.

How do clothing hangers endanger the environment?

Clothing hangers have always been forgotten when it comes to textile and fashion waste, although their existence is directly related to the fashion and textile industry. UK-based company Braiform reported that billions of clothing hangers end up in landfills every year, and the impact on the environment is just as detrimental as textile and plastic waste. 

The Carbon Trust has verified a research which shows that recycling a hanger 9 times reduces CO2 emissions by 79%. Moreover, reusing 1 billion hangers per year by high-end and fast fashion brands could save more than 35,000 metric tons of metal and plastic waste ending up in landfills.

The carbon emissions saved from recycling 1 billion hangers a year would be equivalent to:

  • The same amount of CO2 produced from 10.6 billion plastic straws 

  • The same amount of CO2 generated from 9,000 black London cabs every year.

  • The same as flying around the world 19 times.

  • The same amount generated to produce 4 billion plastic bags.

These are the numbers for only 1 billion clothing hangers if they are being recycled, but every year, 8 billion hangers end up in landfill. It is very difficult to imagine the amount of waste that is generated just by the hanger production every year. The dry cleaning industry itself generates 200 million non-recyclable steel hangers every year.

But it does not stop there; Cheaply made hangers cost humans more than one may think. During the degradation process of a hanger, they leak substances such as benzene bisphenol-A (BPA). These toxic chemicals can filter into the groundwater like microplastics do, and are considered as carcinogenic. While benzene is considered responsible for leukemia, BPA is also linked to some types of breast cancers and affects fertility.

Moreover, wildlife is suffering from hanger waste. Clothing hangers that do not make it into properly controlled waste sites can cause damage to birds and sea life by getting trapped in gills, wings and legs.

Why is there an overproduction and extreme amount of waste from clothing hangers? 

The simplified answer is: Fast Fashion. Every year, 10 billion hangers are produced globally to reach the speed of fast fashion. Hangers are also the product of the fast fashion industry, and the massive amount of hanger production is to meet the massive amount of apparel production.

How are clothing hangers recycled? 

Currently, plastic hangers are very challenging to recycle, almost impossible. They are made from a complex mixture of materials, which are nearly impossible to separate at the average recycling process. According to hanger recycling company First Mile, clothing hangers consist of 7 different kinds of plastics and metals, and many of them end up in landfill. These hangers need 1,000 years to break down. Even if some of them are recyclable, the procedure will be very costly and time-consuming. 

How does Kleiderly contribute?

The clothing hangers we make at Kleiderly are completely different from what the world has done before. The material we use is made from recycled clothing waste and can be recycled several times.

By doing this, Kleiderly is solving two problems: Clothing waste ending in landfill, and the use of oil-based plastic. 

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