Did you know that over 70% of the world’s population uses secondhand clothes. That does not include the US where the average American throws away over 70lbs of clothing a year. Believe it or not the Vintage Clothing or Re-used/Recycled clothing industry is responsible for saving over 1 million ton’s of textiles from ending up in our land-fills each year.
Without the help of clothing and textile recycling outfits around the world this would not be possible. One of these textile recycler comanies SAgain has published a list of eight “insane” facts about textile recycling. While I wouldn’t employ that particular adjective, and clothes “recycling” would be more accurately termed “reuse,” it’s still a cool compilation of info about a unique corner of the industry.
Brought to you by USAgain
- The average lifetime of a piece of clothing is only about 3 years.
- The consumer is the biggest culprit. In the U.S., 75% of pre-consumer textile waste is recycled by manufacturers, but only 15% of post-consumer textile waste is recycled.
- The average American throws away about 70 pounds of clothing, shoes and other household textiles each year.
- Americans generate almost 13 million tons of textile waste per year. Brits generate about 1.12 million tons of textile waste a year.
- Even though the UK appears to generate less textile waste, One in five Brits admit to throwing away a garment after a single wear. This means that more than $127 million of clothing winds up in landfills each year after being worn once. (One in five Brits also think that light sabers exist.)
- One in four American women own seven pairs of jeans, but only wear four of them regularly. (One in Four Americans also don’t know what nation the U.S. declared independence from.)
- The U.S. textile recycling industry creates around 17,000 jobs and removes 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile product from waste stream each year.
- Over 70% of the world’s population uses secondhand clothes.
At Dust Factory Vintage Clothing we always look forward to new to new seasons fashion collections, this coming Autumn/Winter 2011 is no exception.
Our favorite go to choice for fabrics is Recycled Textiles, however our favorite natural fiber of the season is organic wool. But as EcoSalon’s Amy DuFault points out (via Ecco Eco), there are both “environmental and ethical complexities of this natural fiber we so adore.
Last year O-Wool, the leading certified-organic wool at the time, was beginning to fold due to financial reasons. Since then, Tooney Wool Company in Philadelphia, PA, has become the new big dog and owner and distributor of certified-organic-yarns. Whose past clientele list is rather impressive with brands like Patagonia, Timberland, J.Crew, Linda Loudermilk, Diane von Furstenberg, Loomstate, Bahar Shahpar, and Bodkin.
Tree Hugger has great sideshow presentation with Tom’s of Maine Founder showing you how to Produce Ethical Wool undergarments. Check Here to View!
In an interview with EcoSalon, Jocelyn Tunney, of Tunney Wool Company, says “One would want to purchase organic wool for the same reasons as one would want to purchase organic food.” She continues, below.
It’s a more sustainable farming solution, is kinder to the animals and is healthier for the consumer. Conventional wool is grown like conventional food – the land and sheep are sprayed and dipped in pesticides as a cheap means to increase salable product. The land [certified-]organic wool comes from has to go through the same transition and certification process as the land organic food comes from.”
Let’s not forget when it comes to purchasing wool products the most ecological wool is the the stuff you already have hanging in your closet, recycled wool or what you find at a vintage clothing store or thrift shop is close second. However when you don’t have either of these options you should make sure that you are purchasing certified-organic and mulesing-free wool.
After the last Olympics the governing body of the sport of swimming FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation) made a change in their rules regarding the use of body suits in their competitive swimming arena. This caused a set back for swimsuit companies, but not for Speedo, even though the Speedo LZR Racer suit worn by Olympic Gold Medalists Michael Phelps quickly became a surplus overnight. Fortunately for Speedo they collaborated with some student designers from the London College of Fashion, University College Falmouth and the University of Huddersfield have recreated spent time recreating the material into new innovative concepts in green fashion.
This wasn’t Speedo’s first time collaboration with student designers and recycling their old materials from past collections, earlier this year students at Chelsea College of Art & Design designed an amazing pavilion made with Speedo swimsuits and at London Fashion Week, Speedo and From Somewhere premiered a spectacular ruffle dress. They have done such a great job before and we look forward to what they have planned in the near future.
The Green Youth Movement Presented :American Rocker Chic” Color, Patterns and the American flag. Last weekend as part of the Los Angeles Fashion Week.
The Green Initiative Humanitarian Fashion Show began with Balthaczar, which used lots of colors. This was nice to see since most of the the others shows attended this week featured mostly earth tones. One of the last designers was JoyRich. It was a very Rocker driven collection with great use of color and patterns mixed with the American Flag. They also used a lot of mismatching of vintage and recycled denim that every american rocker loves.
More information can be found at: http://www.greenyouthmovement.org/
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.