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Posts Tagged ‘textile waste’

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It’s always great to see folks celebrate Earth Day! While April 22nd is reserved as the official celebration, there are lots of ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle all year long.

One area that might not come to mind right away is your closet. Did you know that in 2018, over 11 million tons of textile materials ended up in the landfill? Discarded clothing is the primary textile in this municipal solid waste stream, though footwear, sheets, blankets, towels, carpeting, and furniture textiles are also included in the category of solid waste. In total, textile materials account for nearly 8% of all landfill material.

According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually. Only 15% of used textiles are recycled, while 85% go to the landfill.

If you want to set a goal this year to minimize your textile waste, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Reduce. Choose not to purchase new clothes and items that you don’t really need. Consider shopping at secondhand stores when you do need to purchase new clothes.
  2. Reuse. If there are clothes or other textiles in your closet, dresser, or house that are in good condition but no longer fit or that you no longer wear, donate them to a local cause or sell them to a secondhand store.
  3. Recycle. If there are clothes in your closet or items in your house that are not in good enough condition to sell or donate (e.g., clothing or other garments with holes, tears, stains, or significant wear), look for a textile recycling option near you. Some retail stores and clothing brands offer textile recycling in-store or online, and some donation centers will accept unusable items for recycling. Depending on their condition, recycled textiles may be repurposed as secondhand clothing, converted into materials such as wiping rags, or broken down into fiber for home insulation, carpet padding and more.

Whether you choose to reduce your clothing purchases or sell, donate, or recycle your used clothing, minimizing textile waste is a goal we can all work toward in 2022!

Sources:

Council for Textile Recycling. The Lifecycle of Secondhand Clothing. https://www.weardonaterecycle.org/images/clothing-life-cycle.png

Harmony Enterprises, Inc. The facts about textile waste. https://harmony1.com/textile-waste-infographic/

United States Environmental Protection Agency (2021). Textiles: Material-Specific Data. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data

Written by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Perry County

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