Textile recycling is actually the world's oldest form of recycling. In fact, it's even often referred to as the original recycling industry. But, unfortunately, only 15% of textile materials are now recycled; the remaining 85% end up in landfills. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, on average, individuals throw away a startling seventy pounds of clothing each year, which accounts for 5.2% of our total landfill waste.
Rather than throwing away used clothing, sheets, blankets, and scrap fabric, refer to the three R's of the recycling pyramid:
1. Reduce solid waste while also reducing energy and water consumption by extending the life of your textiles. For example, instead a purchasing manufactured dish rags, you can create reclaimed rags using old t-shirts or towels.
2. Reuse your gently worn clothing by donating it to either consignment or thrift shops, or to charities that will provide it to those in need. Or, organize a clothing swap with friends, in which you can trade your less loved items for new-to-you apparel.
3. Recycle old garments, towels, and linens to be transformed into wiping cloths or converted to new textile products for consumer and industrial use. Non-profit organizations like Goodwill and Salvation Army will accept your well-used clothing to send to textile recycling facilities.
Recycling used clothing and textiles benefits the environment in reducing our carbon footprint, preserving clean air, reducing energy consumption, and conserving water and woodlands.
Image credit: Lauren Jong on Flickr