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Study Suggests Gen Z Is Willing To Rent Clothes To Reduce Wastage

The findings of a new study by Washington State University suggest that Gen Z adults are interested in using apparel on rental.

WASHINGTON — Gen Z adults are more interested in using apparel rental services to reduce overconsumption, suggested the findings of a new study done by the researchers at the Washington State University.

Also known as collaborative apparel consumption, apparel rental extends the life of an article clothing as people do not throw it away after wearing it a few times. The findings named “Why Is Collaborative Apparel Consumption Gaining Popularity? An Empirical Study of US Gen Z Consumers” were published in the journal “Sustainability.”

Sustainability is an international, cross-disciplinary, scholarly, peer-reviewed, and open-access journal of human beings’ environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability.

“The idea is growing more popular, especially among Gen Z consumers,” said Ting Chi, the corresponding author on the paper and chair of Washington State University’s Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles.

“They are very interested in sustainable consumerism, care about the environment, and are willing to make changes to help the planet.”

Chi and co-authors Lindsay McCoy and Yuan-Ting Wang surveyed 362 adults born between 1997 and 2002 from across the United States. They found that the respondents were still interested in fashionable but don’t need to own a product.

“They’re more focused on usage,” Chi said.

“That increases a product’s lifecycle if different people wear it. It also reduces waste while still meeting consumer needs for variety.”

The study identified several factors that made clothing rental acceptable to Gen Z adults. The most important, according to Chi, is the perceived effectiveness of making a difference. If consumers feel their effort will have an impact, they’re more likely to accept a change.

Another factor was the focus on usage, not ownership.

“They would get newer products more frequently than if they own an item,” Chi said.

“The desire to get more new articles of clothing made it more likely that they would try rental services.”

The idea of renting clothing isn’t new. People have been renting formal wear for decades, but expanding into more daily situations is a significant change for consumers.

“That is why we started by talking with Gen Z,” Chi said. “They are more willing to adapt to changes, and doing so to help the environment makes it even more appealing.”

In 2018, the most recent year statistics were available. Consumers sent over 17 million tons of textiles to landfills in the U.S., as per the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s an increase from around 13 million tons in 2009 and 9.4 million tons in 2000.

“We are wasting too many textiles,” Chi said.

“Americans are buying an average of 67 clothing items every year, but how many do we really need? They’re inexpensive but cause real environmental damage. We need to make an individual effort to help the environment, and one way to help is bringing in a sharing economy.”

Chi and his co-authors plan to continue their research by surveying other generations to gauge their interest in rental apparel.

(With inputs from ANI)

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra