We live in a world that is constantly contradicting itself. We hear about the recycling of paper, plastics, cans, and glass on a virtually daily basis, yet our landfills are getting bigger and bigger with seemingly no end in sight. One contributor to this is the 21 billion pounds of textile waste that makes it through to the landfills each year. Who knew that old clothes and linens were such a problem. The garbage should not even be an option when it comes to clothes we don’t want anymore. Here are several ideas to avoid textile wastage and pollution.
This one seems quite obvious, but many people overlook this. For clothes that are still in good to reasonably good condition, consider donating them to a charity shop or directly to a charity that will distribute them to people in need. A simple internet search will locate a few charities in the area. Some organizations will even collect the goods directly or will have easy-access drop off points in a convenient location.
Sell or swap
There are many good online portals available to sell or swap unwanted clothes that are in great condition. This option is great because it allows us to gain some new funds for new items or to gain new items basically for free. Renting a stall at a flea market is also a lucrative option for selling preloved clothing and shoes.
This should be a popular choice for clothes that have reached the end of the road from their original purpose. Cut up old t-shirts and use them as rags for cleaning around the house. Get those creative vibes buzzing by viewing some online videos. Find some inspiration to transform old clothes into usable or decorative items such as cushions, dog beds, file covers, stuffings, and quilts. A T-shirt with a stain that can no longer be worn out and about can make a perfectly good pajama top. And a long-sleeve button-up shirt with a tear can make a great overcoat to protect good clothes while cleaning the house or painting.
Everything eventually gets to the point where it really can’t be used or re-purposed any further. When that happens, recycling should be the only choice. The Council for Textile Recycling will be able to give information on the nearest textile recycling plant. Instead of these unwanted clothes and rags ending up in the ever-expanding landfill, they will be broken down and completely transformed into new items. These items will also be used to generate power through combustion. Almost a 100 percent of all items sent to any one of the 500 textile recycling plants across the U.S are recycled and reused. The industry is steadily growing and is rapidly gaining more recognition from the government. It’s an industry that is worth supporting and has created 17000 jobs.
While cotton fibers will break down relatively quickly at about six months in a landfill and wool taking up to a year, synthetic clothing like polyester and nylon can take 40 to a 100 years to finally break down. This is not good news for our planet. It’s up to each individual to take responsibility for their waste to make a difference in these shocking figures.