The clothing rental industry has challenged the findings of a recent high-profile report that renting clothing is âless environmentally friendly than throwing it away,â based on the environmental impacts of transportation and dry cleaning.
The study, published by the Finnish scientific journal Environmental Research Letters, assessed the environmental impact of five different ways of owning and disposing of clothing, including rental, resale and recycling.
“We believe rental needs to be looked at closely to make it as ‘green’ as possible, but we are concerned that encouraging people to throw away their clothes is not helping the industry, let alone the planet,” says Tamsin Chislett, CEO and co-founder of the rental company Onloan.
The study’s assumptions about transport, based on a Finnish company, do not reflect the reality of the UK rental market, according to Chislett. The study was modeled on each rented item collected by a car trip. Companies like Onloan and Hirestreet send clothes by post, while My Wardrobe HQ uses bicycle couriers and electric vans. There are also physical businesses that allow customers to choose parts on foot, including HURR at Selfridges and My Wardrobe at Harrods.
Transportation was a key area of ââreview in the study, which said that, given that “the use of rental services is likely to increase customer mobility, and if that happens on a large scale”, so clothing rental is likely to have a greater global warming potential than resale or recycling.