I am all for eco friendly clothing. Eco friendly and fair trade clothing is important as it helps protect peoples rights, the environment and our personal health. But what do we do when our clothing, eco or not, has reached the end of its life? According to the EPA, approximately 12.7 million tons of textile waste was generated in 2009 in the US, amounting to approximately 68 lbs of waste per household per year! So where does all this textile waste go? Basically two places – recyclers and landfill.
Textile recycling companies form one of the oldest recycling industries in North America. Given the maturity of this industry it is extremely efficient. In fact, approximately 93% of all textile waste that enters recycling is successfully reclaimed with about 35% going out as used clothing, 33% as reprocessed fibers (filler in vehicle seats and, upholstery, insulation, etc) and, 25% is converted to cloth wipes with the remaining 7% going to landfill. Interestingly, there is massive demand for used clothing, reprocessed fibers and cloth wipes. In fact, recyclers cannot get their hands on enough material to keep up with demand.
Of the total textile was generated each year, only 15% gets to the recyclers, the remaining 85% goes straight to landfill. It’s not that the recyclers do not want the remaining 85% – in fact, the majority of that textile waste (over 90%) is also reclaimable. It’s just that it never gets sent to the recyclers. Very regretful. And that is where we have to assume greater responsibility. The 85% of textile waste isn’t getting to the recyclers because it is not getting sorted at the domestic level. So, what can we do? If you have old clothing that you want to get rid of but is still wearable, have a yard sale or hand them down to friends or family. Or, you could donate the items to a charitable organization. There are many such organizations both in Canada and the US such as Charity Village, Vietnam Veterans Association, the Salvation Army and Goodwill. Call one of these charities and find a drop off location nearest to you.
If the clothing is not wearable, convert it into wipes that can be used around the house to clean up spills, wash your car, etc. If you are handy with a sewing machine, the clothing materials could be converted into new purpose items such as cloth bags, hats, mitts, quilts, etc. Let your creativity run wild! Even if the clothing is un-wearable and you don’t have the time to do anything with it, ask the Charity if they will still accept the item(s). In most cases the charities have agreements with recyclers to accept any clothing items wearable or not. But whatever option you choose, it is important to know that there are options. We all live busy lives but with a little effort we as a society have the capacity to divert over 10 million tons of textile waste (which accounts for 5% of ALL landfill waste) from the landfills each year! A prime example of how a little effort can go a long way!
By saying yes to organic clothes AND saying yes to textile recycling, we are effectively doubling the impacts of our sustainable efforts – a win / win situation.
Source by Adrian Desbarats