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.
The folks over at ECO SALON have reminded us that Composting isn’t just for food. You’ll be surprised at all the strange, random junk you can toss in the compost bucket. Don’t draw the line at peach pits and coffee grounds – start chucking the following items into that bucket and watch your garbage bill go down while you create top-drawer dirt (and help the planet, of course).
- Bills – because somehow it’s a lot more satisfying shoving bills in with melon rinds and egg shells than the recycle bin. Trust me.
- Latex condoms – both latex and sheepskin condoms are biodegradable; note that sheepskin does not protect against STDs.
- Junk mail – if you’re like me not even the Do Not Mail list has managed to alleviate the jubilant deforestation companies are undertaking on your personal behalf.
- Catalogs and magazines – just shred them first.
- Old fish food and stale catnip
- Abandoned hide/bone dog chews
- Worn out rope and used masking tapeAny old leather – shoes, gloves, wallets, belts, “sexy” Halloween cat costume from college. Note: the leather should be fairly worn out, otherwise you’ll be dead before it degrades. Composting does not guarantee that your friends will stop calling you Cat Woman, however.
- White glue – yes, you can!
- ATM and gas station receipts
- Ticket stubs, post-its, stickers, labels, price tags
- Ratty wool or 100% cotton socks
- Old Halloween candy – when the chocolate tastes like Jelly Bellies, it’s time to part ways. Good times.
- Holey cotton underwear – come on!
- Dirt, crap and grime from your shoes or boots
- Cardboard cereal boxes – shred them up first.
- Vacuum cleaner bag/bin contents and dryer lint
- Skunked beer, ancient candy bars, expired protein bars
- Cotton tampons and cardboard applicators – really!
- Expired dairy and moldy cheese – but hold the meat.
- Used tissues and paper towels
- Aquarium plants and wilted flower bouquets
- Cat fur, dog hair, and nail clippings
- Your hair – you could even bring the clippings home from your hair dresser. If you want.
- Any old leather – shoes, gloves, wallets, belts, “sexy” Halloween cat costume from college. Note: the leather should be fairly worn out, otherwise you’ll be dead before it degrades. Composting does not guarantee that your friends will stop calling you Cat Woman, however.
- Wood chips from the BBQ
- Fireplace and campfire ashes
- That cute little brie cheese box
- Cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rolls
- Hamster/guinea pig/rat/bird cage cleanings
It may seem like weird science, but all of the above objects are fully compostable.
You can compost anything of organic origin: fruit peels and pits, sandwich crusts, gluey pasta, oatmeal that’s gone the way of cement, soggy cereal, stale pastries, nut shells, orange rinds, tea bags, coffee filters, onion skins, melon rinds, seeds, cores, old milk, stale potato chips…
Wait…you compost, right? Composting is free, easy, and one of the best things you can do for the environment, next to cutting down on fossil fuel consumption and minding your three R’s – reducing, reusing, recycling. Call me juvenile, but I also feel like I’m somehow getting away with something. Burying bills in the dirt? Great!
Even if you aren’t a gardener, your green thumb neighbors will be glad to reap the benefits of all your bizarre biodegrading – and you’ll cut down on your garbage pickup fees.
Today is April 22 and we get to celebrate another Earth Day. For those of you that do not know, Earth Day is a day that was set aside to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s natural environment. Earth day was founded by a United States Senator as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. The first Earth day was celebrated in the United States in 1970 but by 1990 Earth Day was being celebrated in over 141 Nations World Wide. Numerous communities today celebrate what they call ‘Earth Week,’ an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.
At Dust Factory every day is earth day for us. We are thankful for our opportunity to be hands on in the recycling and re-purposing process of textiles and other common goods. It is estimated that over one million tons of textiles are thrown away every year in the United States alone. Because of this each month we attempt to save over 75k lbs of clothing from entering our landfills. This is only a small amount in comparison, but we understand that everything starts small. We are only able to do this through the help and support of those that we work with.
We have spent the past 15 years developing a green business as well as educating and supporting others who are interested in doing the same. It does not matter if you are professional mother or a student, each person can make a difference in their community or neighborhood.
The Following are five simple ways that you can make a difference this Earth Day with your clothing alone.
1. Hand-me-downs This may be easier for the younger readers, but you can give your unused clothes to your younger brother or sister. Moms call this Hand-Me-Downs. It is a very simple concept but very effective if used properly. If you don’t have a younger brother or sister, give your old clothes to a smaller neighbor or cousin. See…very simple.
2. Resale Shop If you are the thrifty shopper or if you think that your are a trendy diva that doesn’t really know that many people possibly due to living in a new location or having a sour attitude, then why not take your old clothing to the resale shop. Beware, there is a good chance that there might be a chubster(1) behind the counter at the resale shop waiting to dish you out a piece of humble pie. This could bring some back down to the reality possibly realizing that their washed up style might not be so unique after all. However, it is worth the chance to make some money on your old finds, and it shouldn’t stop you from moving on.
3. Donate Your Clothes After picking up whats left of your ego, and your entire collection of last seasons rags from the by counter at the resale shop, the chubster behind the counter will tell you that if you want you can donate your clothing to their clothing bin, and they will see that it gets to a charity. Of coarse you will want nothing to do with them,but they do bring up a good point, you could donate your clothing… maybe just not to them. If you don’t care either way leave your clothing at the resale donation bin, or if you want, there are plenty of other local charities that you can drop your old clothes at. Many of them will even pick them up from your front porch if you take the 1 minute out of your day to call them. They will see that your clothing is getting re-used. Just google local charities in your area.
4. Local Clothing Swap If your hurting for cash , and you still cant get over the fact that the re-sale shop didn’t want a single item out of your collection, you could try a clothing swap. Most cities have volunteers that organize clothing swaps. You can find them by Google..ing “Local Clothing Swap” or checking your local Craigs List listings. A clothing swap is a gathering where a bunch of like-minded people bring their old clothing and trade out their old garments for others. If no one in your area is hosting a clothing swap then why not put together one for yourself. It can be done with neighbors and friends, or a through a church or local charity.
5. Repurpose Your Clothing Ok I may have lied, I said that I had five simple ways to recycle fashion and this last one may or may not be that simple. This will depend on how creative you are, and how good you are with a sewing machine. If you don’t know how to sew, it is worth learning , if you do know how to sew then this will be simple. Any dress can be turned into a top or skirt. Any t-shirt can be turned into a bathing suit or t-shirt for a kid. Any pants can be turned into shorts. It is a simple concept, but so often over looked. Sometimes you don’t even have to know how to sew, you just need to be able to use a pair of scissors.
Now make it happen. Next time you go through your closet and clear out two pieces or five bag fulls of clothing think about these five options that you now have before putting them into the trash.
For over 15 years we now have educated the public on the unethical practices of the fashion industry. We do this so that the public has the ability to become more conscious consumers. The fashion industry counts on its followers to throw out over 68 pounds of used clothing a year. Not ‘donate’ 68 pounds of clothing, but throw it away, into the trash so that it can end up in our land fills.
In a recent article featured in the Hufffington Post, Shannon Whitehead exposes 5 truths that the fashion industry would rather you not know. So we thought that it was definitely worth sharing.
ARTICLE ORIGINALLY POSTED AT: Hufffington Post
The fashion industry gets a lot of flack these days. The excess, the overtly sexual advertising, the humanitarian issues, the waste, the lawsuits, the list goes on.
The industry giants have dedicated millions of dollars to massive PR campaigns, going so far as to launch “conscious collections” and donate proceeds to worthy causes. Yet despite these efforts, the truth remains — fashion is one of the dirtiest industries in the world. Here’s what they don’t want you to know:
1.) The fashion industry is designed to make you feel “out of trend” after one week.
Once upon a time, there were two fashion seasons: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Fast forward to 2014 and the fashion industry is churning out 52 “micro-seasons” per year. With new trends coming out every week, the goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible.
According to Elizabeth Cline in her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, fast-fashion merchandise is typically priced much lower than the competition, operating on a business model of low quality / high volume.
Cline points to the Spanish retailer Zara for pioneering the fast-fashion concept with new deliveries to its stores coming in twice per week. At the time of writing, she says H&M and Forever21 both get daily shipments of new styles, while Topshop introduces 400 styles a week on its website.
Most of us by now should be making our own soil by composting our left over scraps and papers. We know that compost can be beneficial to our gardens, but did you know it can also play a part in making more sustainably-designed furniture? That is exactly what Israel-based designer Adital Ela of S-Sense Design found out when creating Terra, a line of furniture that’s made entirely out of compost, which she actually cultivates and gathers near her studio.
Ela calls herself a “designer-gatherer” becasue she creates stools, cups, lampshades and other pieces of furniture by blending organic matter like vegetation, dirt and various fibers in a proportional recipe, and molded using compression, provided by her feet. According to Ela’s research, the foot-mixing technique for earth-based construction is quite old, being used in ancient times in places like Iran, Iraq and Palestine.
On FastCo.Design, Ela describes how she first got the idea for making these biodegradable works when sipping a cup of chai tea in a clay cup:
I was absolutely fascinated by the way those sun-dried clay cups were tossed to the ground and blended back to become earth again within minutes. Seeing this, I started asking myself, ‘How can products, like people, come from dust, and to dust return?’
This strikes a chord with us at Dust Factory because things are very much the same in the textile industry.
There are interesting implications in Ela’s project because not only are these materials available everywhere, the time-honoured technique is something that anyone can use to create their own low-impact and easily recyclable furniture. In developing her methods, Ela realized that her own grandmother built ovens in the past using similar techniques.
Find Out More at S-Sense Design