Each year, roughly 26-billion pounds of textiles and clothing are loaded into landfills across America. These materials take hundreds of years to decompose, and they can also contaminate the surrounding soil and groundwater. Plus, some synthetic fibers don’t decompose at all.
While many people believe that donating their unwanted clothing is the solution, this seemingly charitable action poses risks of its own because the supply significantly outweighs the demand.
“People like to feel they are doing something good,” said Georgetown economics professor Pietra Rivoli. “And the problem they run into in a country such as the U.S. is that we don’t have people who need clothes on the scale at which we’re producing.”
Fortunately, there’s another option. According to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), we can actually reuse 95 percent of used clothing and textiles in some way. As such, textile recycling plays an important role in protecting the environment. Textile recycling refers to the process of salvaging old clothing and other textiles for reuse or material recovery. As long as clothing is dry and odor-free, it can be recycled. This also applies to torn or ripped clothing, which many people view as unsalvageable.
As more and more textiles are collected, recycled, and reused, fewer landfills are needed to store the excess waste. Recycling textiles also decreases overall energy consumption and the production of harmful dyes, as there’s less need to manufacture new clothing.
The importance of recycling textiles should not be ignored. If you’re interested in recycling your used clothing, the American Textile Recycling Service makes it easy. Seeking to make textile recycling accessible for everyone, they have placed thousands of donation bins in neighborhoods all across America. To find a drop-off location in your area, you can call their 24-hour hotline at 866-900-9308.