Ditching Plastic: Unveiling the Plastic Footprint of the Online Apparel Industry

Ditching Plastic: Unveiling the Plastic Footprint of the Online Apparel Industry

The online apparel industry has witnessed exponential growth in recent years, revolutionizing the way we shop for clothing. While this convenience has its merits, it is essential to consider the environmental consequences, particularly the significant use of plastic throughout the supply chain. From packaging materials to garment protection, the online apparel industry has contributed to the mounting plastic crisis.

This article aims to shed light on the extent of plastic usage within the online apparel industry and demonstrate why Climb Culture has decided to ditch plastic completely. 

Plastic Packaging

One of the primary culprits of plastic waste in the online apparel industry is packaging. Clothing items are often individually wrapped in plastic sleeves or polybags before being placed in larger plastic shipping bags. These packaging materials serve to protect the garments during transportation but contribute significantly to plastic pollution. Considering the millions of packages shipped daily worldwide, the cumulative plastic waste becomes staggering.

At Climb Culture we have opted to use recyclable cardboard packaging for all orders.

Return and Exchange Processes

Online apparel retailers frequently offer free returns and exchanges to enhance customer satisfaction. However, this convenience comes at an environmental cost. Many returned items cannot be resold as new due to damage or hygiene concerns, leading to excessive waste. To ensure the safe return of items, plastic packaging and protective materials are often used, further adding to the plastic footprint.

At Climb Culture we don't offer free exchanges or ever request items be posted back to us. Our policies around this do not involved creating more waste or increasing our carbon footprint.

Single-Use Plastic Accessories

Online apparel orders often include additional accessories such as tags, hangers, buttons, and zippers. These items, usually made from plastic, are commonly discarded by customers after receiving their packages. While individually insignificant, the accumulation of these single-use plastic accessories across the industry adds up to a substantial environmental burden.

Our climbing apparel does not come with any tags attached, hangers or unnecessary accessories that would inevitably end up in landfill. 

Microplastics from Synthetic Fibers

Synthetic fibers, such as polyester and nylon, are prevalent in the online apparel industry due to their affordability and durability. However, they contribute to another form of plastic pollution: microplastics. Every time synthetic garments are washed, tiny fibers shed into the water stream, eventually finding their way into oceans and other ecosystems. These microplastics pose a severe threat to marine life and can even enter the human food chain.

Our climbing apparel is made from certified, organic-cotton so once it's ready to be retired it won't last another hundred to two hundred years in landfill; it will be reabsorbed back into the earth as nature intended.

Plastic Reduction and Sustainable Alternatives

Recognising the urgency of the plastic crisis, steps are being taken to address the environmental impact of the online apparel industry. Climb Culture and other forward-thinking brands have begun implementing plastic reduction initiatives. Adopting biodegradable or compostable packaging materials, using recycled plastics, or exploring alternative packaging options such as paper-based solutions are just some of the steps we are taking to clean up the industry.

Additionally, investing in sustainable materials like organic cotton, linen, hemp, and innovative recycled fabrics can reduce the use of synthetic fibers and minimize microplastic pollution. Encouraging customers to recycle or upcycle clothing, promoting responsible washing practices, and raising awareness about the environmental impact of plastic usage are also vital steps toward a more sustainable future.


The online apparel industry's reliance on plastic packaging and single-use accessories has contributed significantly to the plastic crisis. However, growing awareness and the implementation of sustainable alternatives offer hope for change. By adopting eco-friendly packaging materials, reducing single-use plastic accessories, and promoting the use of sustainable fabrics, online apparel retailers can make a substantial difference.

Consumers also play a vital role by supporting brands committed to reducing their plastic footprint and making informed choices. Together, we can drive the transformation toward a more sustainable and plastic-free future for the online apparel industry.