Recycling and donating – 5% of our waste can help 100.000s of people each year
When we say the word “recycling”, the first things that come to mind are paper, plastic and aluminum. The reason behind this is the fact that these materials have a high level of reusability. But, thinking only about these items as being reusable can be very dangerous once we think about the composition of the waste we produce.
Textiles are a huge part of the things we throw away without thinking that they too can be used over and over again. Studies suggest that that more than 5% of our waste consists of reusable textiles. This number may not seem like much, but once you do the math, it comes to around 3.5 billion pounds of textile waste per year.
Another big important thing to consider when thinking about textile recycling is the fact that most of the textiles we throw away are not synthetic. Wool and cotton are the basis of most of the textiles in our garbage bag. These items are natural materials that can be reused over and over again. Crops that are used for most textiles may not be limited at the moment, but decreasing the energy put into growing them is definitely a huge step towards a more eco-friendly community.
The word community is very important here, because many cities have systems for collecting used clothing and textiles that can be worn time and time again. Second hand shops are also very important as well as shopping in them. Of course, every one of us likes to have the newest and trendiest clothing in our wardrobe, but if we think about the manufacturing costs and energy used for making new cloths, it is a shame not to consider finding new ways to express ourselves with already manufactured items of clothing.
There is a recent trend that’s very positive regarding these new environment-conscious shoppers and trendsetter. Thrift shops have become very huge in the West and more and more people are already promoting this new environmental lifestyle.
On the other side, we have specific textile items that are not necessary worn by us, but still can be recycled and put to use in a new context. Stuffed toys can become stuffing for car seats, furniture, pillows, etc. Unusable coats and sweaters can become carpet padding, and denim becomes home insulation. Recycled fabric scraps are often used to manufacture paper money, which can be seen as a great metaphor for “throwing money away” every time we don’t recycle textile.
In the end, we need to draw attention to the benefits of donating textile items.
Although the recycling of any type is great in itself, donating clothing, shoes and any other kind of wearable items is still the best way to make use of old textile items. The most important thing here is that the items we donate need to be dry and clean. As we mentioned before, many cities have already structures in place that deal with this kind of collecting secondhand clothing service, so get out there, inform yourself and make the world a slightly better place to live in.