Refuse to take home plastic hangers when offered them at the checkout and avoid buying items (like socks and pants) that are attached to a plastic hanger.
Coat hangers have been named “the plastic straw of the fashion industry” by fashion designer, Roland Mouret.
Ever wondered why you are charmingly asked at the store checkout if would like the hanger – as if being offered a free gift – and then feeling slightly rude as you decline? Well, that’s because the store doesn’t want it either. If you don’t take it the store most likely won’t reuse it and 85% of the time it will end up in landfill. In the UK 100 million hangers are thrown away every year contributing to the 8 billion or so produced and discarded globally.
Plastic hangers are hard to recycle because of how they are made. They can include a combination of up to seven different plastics as well as metal and it is estimated they will take up to 1000 years to break down in landfill. And they don’t just lie there quietly. The plastics in them can leach carcinogens such as benzene into drinking water along with bispehol-A, a hormone disrupter recently banned in Canada for use in making water and baby bottles.
The good news is that the industry does appear to be waking up to the problem and there are initiatives offering hope; Hanger manufacture Arch and Hook make a line of hangers with recycled plastic from the ocean; the London based recycling firm, First Mile, accepts broken and unwanted hangers from retailers for recycling and the John Lewis store in Oxford invites customers to bring back hangers from re-use or in-store recycling.
The solution does have to come from the fashion industry itself but your simple “no thank you” at the checkout or a refusal to even buy an item attached to a plastic hanger reinforces the message to the fashion brands that they need to deal with their rubbish not us!
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