Australia tops clothing purchase rankings

Australians the biggest buyers of clothes - Newsreel
Australians have passed the United States as the biggest per capita buyers of clothes. | Photo: Andresr (iStock)

Australians have become the world’s biggest per capita purchasers of clothes, according to new research released today.

The Australia Institute think tank says we have now passed the United States as the biggest clothing consumer, with an average of 56 new clothing items per year.

The average cost of each item is just $13, well below the UK average at $40, the US $24, Japan $30 and Brazil $16.

The figures suggested most of the clothing binge was “fast fashion” and more than 200,000 pieces of clothing were ending up in landfill each year.

Australia Institute Circular Economy and Waste Program Director Nina Gbor said more action was needed to reduce clothing waste.

“Australians are the world’s biggest consumer of clothes, shoes and bags per capita,” she said.

“We’re addicted to stuff that is harming our health and the environment.

“We need to drastically reduce waste at the source by penalising brands mass-producing incredibly cheap and poor quality clothing that is often worn just a handful of times or never sells and goes straight to the tip.”

The research showed Australia’s average of 56 new clothing items per person per year compared with 53 in the US, 33 in the UK and 30 in China.

Australia Institute polling research found nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of people were concerned or very concerned about the environmental impact of textile waste.

“Fewer than half (46 percent) could identify petroleum as the source of polyester, while just 27 percent knew that more than half of clothes sold in Australia were made from plastic,” Ms Gbor said.

“We’re walking around in plastic clothes made from petroleum. Many of these items end up in landfill or are dumped in countries in the Global South, where they fill up their landfills, pollute beaches and oceans and contribute to more emissions.”