Some companies are creating ways to make recycling textiles fun. The Huffington Post reports on some great ideas that can be copied and built upon. Recycling clothing reduces the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills and is one way you can minimize your environmental footprint. 11.1 million pounds of textiles are dumped into U.S. landfills every year. Some alternative possibilities for these materials are:
- Donate clothing to a charity. If it’s not good enough to sell, anything from motorcycle jackets to your old sneakers can be packaged by the charity and sold by the pound either for resale as clothing in third world countries or reprocessed to create new textiles.
- Swap clothing with your friends and acquaintances. Some people, usually of the female variety, host clothing swaps and serve snacks making clothing reuse into a festive, party-like event.
- Marks and Spencer has created an excellent campaign for textile reuse with their concept of Shwopping. Customers are encouraged to donate clothing when they come to the store to shop. Colorful bins are provided as donation repositories.
- Most clothing items including belts, handbags and zippers can be recycled. The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association wants people to realize that even when materials are ripped, stained and damaged in some other way, they can usually be recycled. They may become carpet pads or wiping cloths, but most of the time they can become something useful again. Waste management garbage pickup also helps materials to be reused rather than discarded in a landfill.
A sad recycling statistic is that only 64 percent of people are willing to drive five miles to drop off reusable garments. It would be great to change this attitude. USAgain certainly did so by hosting an event for high school students in West Chicago called “Homecoming Goes Green.” Each student donating an item of clothing was eligible to receive a new or slightly used dress to wear to homecoming. The attractive social packaging and tempting reward became a strong incentive for reuse.
More Than Just Recycling
Homeless HIV-positive people are in alliance with the city to make recycling completely easy for everyone. The program’s goal is to retrieve 200,000 tons of used clothing and other textiles for recycling and reuse rather than to have it piling up in landfills. Useable clothing saved from the trash is sold by Re-fashioNYC, the partnership’s retail store. The proceeds are sufficient to pay for the cost of the entire program. While currently 130 buildings are taking part in the program, there have been over 1,000 additional inquiries regarding participation.
New York State of Mind
New Yorkers did a great job by eliminating the hassle of clothing donation by bringing collection points to donors. The city collaborated with a needy population for mutual benefit. Thousands of reusable items will no longer waste landfill space. The cost to the NYC was a grand total of $0.00.
The Stats of Recycling
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges us to recycle our textiles because of the shocking statistics:
- In 2010 5.3 percent of municipal waste was from textiles.
- In 2010 about 14.0 percent of clothing and 17 percent of bedding were recycled through export or reprocessing.
- In 2010 only 15 percent of all textiles were recovered.
Textile recovery facilities separate materials into different categories for reuse:
- Cotton can become rags or high quality paper.
- Knitted or woven woolens can be remade into car insulation and seat stuffing.
- Natural materials can be composted.
- Zippers and buttons can be reused.