Preventing climate change and further environmental deterioration is high on the agenda in many African countries, including South Africa. The impact of human behaviour is resulting in excessive waste especially in the clothing and textiles industry, as solid waste is generated throughout the manufacturing process as well as in the post-purchase stages of consumer consumption. Textile and clothing disposal is an increasing problem throughout the world as it leads to excessive waste, which causes several problems such as overflowing landfill sites. Due to fast fashion, an increasing number of clothing and textile products are disposed of in landfill sites with severe environmental consequences. It is therefore important that clothing and textile consumers discover ways to reduce their waste, such as opting for eco-friendly disposal methods. Various disposal options exist for unwanted garments that could prevent excessive amounts of textile waste from reaching landfill sites. These include donating, reselling, and recycling, all of which contribute to more positive environmental consequences than simply discarding it. However, there may be influencing factors that hinder consumers from disposing their clothing in an eco-friendly manner.
The purpose of this study was to introduce empirical evidence that could explain some of the underlying factors that influence Millennials’ pro-environmental intent and their eco-friendly disposal of activewear. This study focused on activewear as it has become a dominate apparel category in the clothing and textile industry. A theory that has been extensively used to explore various types of eco-friendly behaviours is Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). The research objectives as well as the theoretical framework of this study consequently focused on a central construct in the TPB, namely perceived behavioural control. For the purposes of this study, perceived behavioural control was further extended and conceptualised into two sub-dimensions, namely perceived self-efficacy and controllability. Self-efficacy is consumers’ confidence in their capabilities to perform a certain behaviour (i.e. donate, resell or recycle) to produce the desired outcome. Controllability Consumers’ views/beliefs that they have control over their behaviour, and that they actual performance or non-performance of a specific behaviour is ultimately up to them.
Data for this study was collected from a sample of 299 millennial consumers, aged between 18 and 35 years. Millennials were specifically chosen because they are prone to adopt pro-environmental behaviours such as eco-friendly clothing disposal methods. A quantitative, cross-sectional survey design was used to address the study’s exploratory research purposes. Millennial respondents were reached by means of a non-probability, purposive sampling method to make sure that suitable respondents were included i.e. they had to participate in at least one physical activity and subsequently have some experience relating to the acquisition and disposal of activewear. Respondents who resided in various South African regions completed an online questionnaire that was developed according to the key constructs and objectives of the study. The resulting data was captured, coded and thereafter analysed in both a descriptive and inferential manner.
The results indicate that Millennials are quite confident in their ability to donate their unwanted activewear. They felt strongly that situational factors including cost, time and convenience, inhibited their ability to resell their unwanted activewear. In terms of intent, Millennials were more willing to donate their activewear than to resell or recycle it, which may have been a result of the high levels of self-efficacy and the belief that situational factors do not inhibit donation to the same degree as recycling and reselling efforts. Ultimately, Millennials may prefer to donate their unwanted activewear, because apart from pro-environmental consequences, it may also include underlying altruistic benefits. In the multiple regression analysis, self-efficacy was the strongest predictor of donation. Thus, self-efficacy could therefore not only be a predictor of intent (as indicated in existing literature) but also of actual behaviour. Further research is needed in this regard, and similar studies could be conducted to explore the relevance of self-efficacy in other types of environmentally responsible consumer behaviour. It seems that highlighting the ease of donating to others and the subsequent environmental benefits of doing so may significantly advance efforts to reduce textile waste in the local context. Yet, much can still be done to address situational factors that inhibit Millennials’ efforts to recycle and resell unwanted activewear
Dissertation (MConsumer Science)--University of Pretoria, 2018.