Textile waste has been an often overlooked polluter and component of landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average North American throws away 68 lbs of clothing yearly. In 2008 approximately 12.4 million tonnes of textiles were created, and this number keeps growing. Without improving sustainability practices, textile recycling, and turning towards more eco-friendly materials, the amount of textiles going to landfills will keep growing as well.
Much of the clothing that is thrown away is still in decent, if not wearable, condition. Many items are thrown away because they no longer fit, or are out of style. However most textiles, even if they cannot be worn, are able to be ground down into fibres or re-purposed to be used as wiping cloths.
But landfills aren’t the only part of the problem. When clothing isn’t reused, it means more has to be produced, which means more pollution. Take cotton for instance, cotton is one of the most harmful crops to farm, and it just happens to be one of the most common fibres in our clothing. Did you know 22.5% of all agricultural insecticides and 10% of all pesticides used yearly go towards cotton farming? Producing just one cotton t-shirt takes 1/3 of a pound of pesticides! That’s an extremely detrimental environmental impact.
By recycling clothing, you can make a difference. Recycling conserves fossil fuels and raw materials. Clothing donations also go to third world countries where clothing is not as readily affordable or available. Disaster relief efforts and thrift stores are other areas where used clothing donations are gratefully accepted.