Textiles make up 8 percent of all municipal solid waste landfills. In 2017, that equated to 11.2 million tons of discarded textiles. That same year, 16.9 million tons of new textiles were generated.
We’ve entered an age where we throw out clothes that have been stained, sheets that are ripped, and shoes that are worn down. In a world where it is so easy to buy something new, a lot of things go to waste, especially textiles.
What are some ways to lessen our consumption and responsibly discard these textiles?
1. Buy second hand, such as items from thrift stores. By shopping at thrift stores, you not only save money, but you reduce the demand for new textiles generated each year.
2. When buying clothes, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” Think about how many times you will wear that article of clothing, if it’s from a sustainable brand, and how comfortable it is. If those things don’t all have great answers, reconsider them.
3. Host a clothing swap with friends, classmates, or community members. Ask each person to bring in a certain number of clothes and swap them. Not only are you getting new clothes for free, but you are also getting rid of items that you don’t want anymore!
4. Donate to local nonprofits/thrift stores if your textiles are in good condition.
5. Make masks/rags for cleaning. If your clothing/sheets are torn or have holes, you can create rags out of them for cleaning. Another great use for these, especially now, is creating face masks. You can create masks for yourself, family, friends, or to donate to local hospitals or organizations. This not only recycles fabric, but it also lessens the dependency of single use masks.
6. Recycle Fabric Scraps. If sewing masks is too time-consuming or not something that excites you, you can also donate your fabric scraps to places such as FABSCRAP or GrowNYC. These organizations turn donated scraps into housing insulation, carpet padding, furniture lining, and more.
7. Finally, did you know that 100% cotton fabric can be composted?
Photos taken from Unsplash