The folks over at Waist Online have a detailed page with allot of useful information about Textile Recycling. They note that textile recycling originated in the Yorkshire Dales about 200 years ago. These days the ‘rag and bone’ men are textile reclamation businesses, which collect textiles for reuse (often abroad), and send material to the ‘wiping’ and ‘flocking’ industry and fibres to be reclaimed to make new garments. Textiles made from both natural and man-made fibres can be recycled.
It is estimated that more than 1 million tons of textiles are thrown away every year, with most of this coming from household sources. Textiles make up about 3% by weight of a household bin. At least 50% of the textiles we throw away are recyclable, however, the proportion of textile wastes reused or recycled annually in the US is only around 20%.
Although the majority of textile waste originates from household sources, waste textiles also arise during yarn and fabric manufacture, garment-making processes and from the retail industry. These are termed post-industrial waste, as opposed to the post-consumer waste which goes to jumble sales and charity shops. Together they provide a vast potential for recovery and recycling.
Recovery and recycling provide both environmental and economic benefits. Textile recovery:
- Reduces the need for landfill space. Textiles present particular problems in landfill as synthetic (man-made fibres) products will not decompose, while woollen garments do decompose and produce methane, which contributes to global warming.
- Reduces pressure on virgin resources.
- Aids the balance of payments as we import fewer materials for our needs.
- Results in less pollution and energy savings, as fibers do not have to be transported from abroad.
Reclaiming fiber avoids many of the polluting and energy intensive processes needed to make textiles from virgin materials, including: –
- Savings on energy consumption when processing, as items do not need to be re-dyed or scoured.
- Less effluent, as unlike raw wool, it does not have to be thoroughly washed using large volumes of water.
- Reduction of demand for dyes and fixing agents and the problems caused by their use and manufacture.
How, what and where of recycling textiles:
The majority of post-consumer textiles are currently collected by charities like The Salvation Army, Good Will and Chalk. Some charities, for example Good Will and The Salvation Army, sort collected material selling it on to merchants in the appropriate sectors.
Some postindustrial waste is recycled ‘in-house’, usually in the yarn and fabric manufacturing sector. The rest, aside from going to landfill or incineration, is sent to merchants.
At present the consumer has the option of putting textiles in ‘clothes banks’, taking them to charity shops or having them picked up for a donation drive.
The Salvation Army is the largest operator of textile banks in the US. On average, each of these banks is estimated to collect about six tons of textiles per year. Combined with door-to-door collections, The Salvation Army’s textile recycling operations account for the processing of in excess of 17,000 tons of clothing a year. Clothes are given to the homeless, sold in charity shops or sold in developing countries in Africa, the Indian sub-continent and parts of Eastern Europe. Nearly 70% of items put into clothing banks are reused as clothes, and any un-wearable items are sold to merchants to be recycled and used as factory wiping cloths.
Processing and Outlets for Waste Textiles
All collected textiles are sorted and graded at a "Rag House" by highly skilled, experienced workers, who are able to recognize the large variety of fiber types resulting from the introduction of synthetics and blended fiber fabrics. Once sorted the items are sent to various destinations as outlined below:
Post industrial waste is often reprocessed in house. Clippings from garment manufacture are also used by fiber reclaimers to make into garments, felt and blankets.
Some selected items will be sold to the "Vintage Market" and reused by designers fashioning garments and bags from recovered items. Companies like Dust Factory Vintage grade the textiles even more to produce mixes that will sell in trendy Vintage Shops in te US, Japan and Europe, however this is a very small sector within the overall destinations of textiles. For more information on what happens with Vintage Clothing click here.
What You Can Do:
- Take your used clothes to a textile bank. Contact the recycling officer in your local authority if there are no banks in your area and ask why; they may collect textiles through other means. Alternatively you can take used clothing to local charity shops.
- Give old clothes/shoes/curtains/handbags etc. to jumble sales. Remember to tie shoes together: part of the 6% of textiles which is wastage for merchants are single shoes.
- Buy second-hand clothes – you can often pick up unusual period pieces! If bought from a charity shop, it will also benefit a charity.
- Buy things you are likely to wear a long time – a dedicated follower of fashion can also be a green one if items are chosen carefully.
- Look for recycled content in the garments you buy. This should be on the label, though at present there is no conventional marking scheme and some companies do not always advertise the recycled content.
- Buy cloth wipers instead of disposable paper products as the product can be used repeatedly.
Sometimes its easy to make a simple change that could make a huge difference, almost too easy. The Italian government has made an official request that businesses loosen up on the dress code during hot summer months. A statement from the ministry claims that, “Taking your tie off immediately lowers the body temperature by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius. Allowing a more sensible use of air conditioning that yields electricity savings and protects the environment.
While this may not seem a significant message outside of Italy, by relating dress style to global warming the Italian government may have found a way to get the attention of a blas public. One of the European Union’s most polluted members, Italy, in spite of various efforts to reduce emissions, is expected to exceed greenhouse gas emission targets. Perhaps by encouraging shabby dress in the workplace the government has tapped a nerve that will lead to other, more significant changes.
At least one tie-maker on the other hand is not impressed with the government’s anti-tie message. Reuters quotes from a letter to the newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore: “Italy confirms that it is a strange country,” said Flavio Cima “I, tie maker, am responsible for global warming. We can now happily continue with our lifestyle, using cars, consuming fuel, heating and cooling our homes at leisure. On one condition: we should not wear a tie while we do so.” Via ::Yahoo News
I got this information from Green Options. Search for “Largest corporate solar installation in the U.S.” and you’ll see Google pop up in the results. As of yesterday, the search engine giant became a lot less dependent on the grid by flipping the switch on nearly 9,212 solar panels. The output of more than 1.6 megawatts will serve up enough energy to power almost 1/3 of the campus. For some perspective, that’s enough energy to power more than 1,000 homes!
Michael dEstries at Green Options points out that Google not content, however, to simply let a few thousand solar panels represent their green values, Google also unveiled a new parking garage specifically designed for plug-in-electric vehicles and hybrid cars. Employees can now charge while at work and hit the road freshly juiced afterwards. “Wait a minute,” you say. “There aren’t any commercial plug-in cars available yet!” And you’re right. So, to address this issue, Google is also taking hybrid vehicles and converting them to plug-ins so that they can cruise along on only electricity for longer periods of time and at greater speeds. According to the article, they’ve so far converted four Toyota Prius and two Ford Escapes. Almost 100 such conversions are planned for employees to use as a car-share program while at work. Who are these guys?
Monday also marked the launch of Google’s new philanthropic division, RechargeIT. The group has earmarked $10 million for investments in companies and projects that support alternative transportation that reduces the use of fossil fuels and emissions. You can also visit the site to see how the plug-in cars that Google has converted are performing.
To say this is encouraging would be a bit of an understatement. Would the rest of the corporate U.S. please pay attention? The future of business sustainability lies in example at Google HQ. We applaud their efforts and hope such green initiative become contagious nationwide.
The head of the OPEC oil cartel just said that investing in biofuels could push oil prices â€œthrough the roof,â€ the UKâ€™s Financial Times reported yesterday. OPEC secretary general Abdalla El-Badri had the nerve to say that moves to use biofuels would make his members consider cutting investment in oil production.
Even US Oil Tycoon Texas Cowboy/President Bush says the US will aim to cut its petrol use by 20 per cent in the next ten years, partly through increased use of biofuels. Opec members control about 40 per cent of the worldâ€™s oil production. El-Badri said that while OPEC members had so far maintained their investment plans, he added: â€œIf we are unable to see a security of demand we may revisit investment in the long term.â€
This warning comes as leaders of the G8 industrialized nations gather for their summit in Germany. Environmental issues are high on the agenda and the use of biofuels is central to the attempts of many G8 countries to cut their carbon emissions. Biofuels can be anything made with vegetable matter that burns.
The US is not the only nation that depends on Opecs oil, Gabrielle Reilly at Gift of Gab brings up that China alone is reshaping the global oil relationships in and of itself. This year China has become the second largest user of oil outside of the US surpassing Japan. As Chinaâ€™s economy grows and technology improves, the Chinese are setting aside their bikes for cars. Although it may still be two decades before many of the peasants laboring in the manufacturing sectors become consumers, with a population of well over 1 billion people, it would only take a small percentage of the population to consume as much as the U.S. does. Will this bring China into closer relations with the Middle East in preference to the U.S.? Only time will give us the sure answer to that question.
So OPEC is feeling the pressure? Let’s see how they act when their is actual competition on the field. In my opinion, if the Americans paid what Europeans pay at the pumps for gasoline, they would drive less and be looking for way more alternative fuels and modes of transportation. Pushing the envelope further towards bio fuels, maybe even passing positive laws to help enforce them.
-In 2001, the UN FAO and World Health Organisation estimated that developing countries spend US$3 billion annually on pesticides. However, one-third of these pesticides did not meet internationally accepted quality standards. Developing countries are used as a dumping ground for hazardous chemicals, many of which are banned throughout much of the rest of the world because of the serious threats they pose to human health and the natural environment. Cambodia is one such country.
-Pesticides are toxic by design. Every year, pesticides are estimated to cause tens of millions of cases of accidental poisoning. Many of these poisoning cases are in the developing world where awareness of the dangers is lacking. Symptoms of pesticide poisoning can range from short-term headaches and nausea to convulsions, unconsciousness or death. Longer-term effects include damage to nervous systems, respiratory and skin diseases, cancers and birth defects. What’s Your Poison? highlights the shocking evidence between pesticides and damage to human health.
–EJF’s work to raise awareness of the human health impact of endosulfan and the publication of End of the Road for Endosulfan led to the Cambodian Government announcing a ban on the import, sale and use of this dangerous pesticide. Find out why endosulfan is so dangerous to human health: [Read EJF’s report End of the Road for Endosulfan]
-Cotton uses nearly 10% of the world’s pesticides, and of this, 25% of the world’s insecticides. The consequences for human health and the environment are well known, particularly in the developing world where pesticides are not subject to stringent regulation and where public awareness of the risks are limited. There has been a slow response from producers, traders and retailers to developing and promoting organic cotton production that can sustain environment and rural communities.