Research reveals the extent of Australia's clothing waste

YouGov Omnibus found 30 per cent of Australians threw away more than 10 items in the past year.
YouGov Omnibus found 30 per cent of Australians threw away more than 10 items in the past year.

Australians are churning through clothes at an unprecedented rate, with 75 per cent of us throwing at least one item of clothing in the bin in the past year.

One in five of us has also tossed clothing after wearing it just once.

It gets worse the younger you are, with a nearly 40 per cent of millennials buying half of the clothing they own in the past 12 months.

With large fashion houses such as H&M and Zara creating new lines every week, the pressure to keep up with trends has never been so great.

Research released on Tuesday by market research company YouGov Omnibus reveals the extent of Australia's clothing waste.

Millennials (people born after 1981) are twice as likely as baby boomers to toss clothing because it is unfashionable or they are bored of wearing it.

Marketing student Bridget Halpin admitted to shopping online "quite a lot", buying two to three new items a month, but said she focussed on staple pieces with a longer shelf life.

Unlike some of her friends, the 20-year-old from Hampton in Melbourne's south-east said she refrained from tossing clothes in the trash.

"I'll ask my sisters first because they're similar sizes and then I tend to give it to St Vincent de Paul or the Salvation Army, or sometimes my mum gives them to younger family friends."

YouGov Omnibus found 30 per cent of Australians threw away more than 10 items in the past year.

Ms Halpin, an intern at a public relations company, said she occasionally felt pressure to look fashionable.

"Definitely when I come into the office and see everyone in cool outfits I think I need to step up my game.

"I do feel a bit of pressure because you see people wearing nice new current season clothes and then you just go and buy it."

While Australians of all generations were guilty of sending clothes to landfill, baby boomers were more likely to donate unwanted items to charity and keep clothing that is unfashionable.

Of the 2536 people surveyed, 9 per cent of baby boomers bought half of their wardrobe in the last year compared to 38 per cent of millennials.

YouGov's Head of Omnibus Jake Gammon said the survey suggested the amount of clothing in landfill was likely to rise.

"Looking ahead to the future, there is a worrying trend among millennials; their propensity to dispose of clothing at a faster rate and using less sustainable means than older generations suggests that there is an uphill battle ahead for those keen to tackle this issue head on."

Millennials were nine times more likely to throw away clothing because they had seen a friend wearing it. Disturbingly, 7 per cent of millennials surveyed also said they burned unwanted clothes to get rid of them.

Ms Halpin said her shopping had become less impulsive with age.

"I think when I was younger, definitely during high school, if there was a party I would have to buy something new. Now I'm more last minute and I'll go 'this still looks good, I'll just wear it'."