Textile Waste: Breaking The Closet to Landfill Cycle

eco friendly hanger

As clothing and other fabric-goods have dropped in price over the last 20 years our homes are more cluttered than ever with textile STUFF: clothing, linens, rugs, draperies, etc. When our fashion whims change, we elect to redecorate, or otherwise “outgrow” our acquired textile products these goods often deposited into a landfill as textile waste.  USAgain.com tallied that the average American trashed 65 pounds of textiles each year.

While much attention is focused on recycled plastic, glass and paper products, the issue of textile waste is often over-looked in mainstream recycling efforts. But the problem demands attention:

Per the EPA

  • An estimated 13.1 million tons of textiles were generated in 2011, or 5.2 percent of total municipal solid waste (MSW) generation.
  • An estimated 13.9 percent of textiles in clothing and footwear and 17.6 percent of items such as sheets and pillowcases was recovered for export or reprocessing in 2011.
  • The recovery rate for all textiles was 15.3 percent in 2011, 2.0 million tons.

This method of consumption and culture of disposing textiles needs is not sustainable. In order to to create a T-Shirt, 700 gallons of water is  used to create a finished product — according to USAgain.com. The organization also calculated that for every pound of textiles produced 7 pounds of CO2 were generated. Our limited natural resources should be better spent.

Little conscious steps can disrupt this destructive cycle. Here are some great ways to tackle the problem of textile waste.

Repair and Restore Clothing and Other Home Textiles

At the Laundry Shoppe we offer products that help you keep your favorite fabrics in their best shape. Affording you the opportunity  to achieve the maximum wear out of your clothing and linens.

We offer a great selection of eco-friendly laundry products that are gentle to fabric fibers and provide a safe way to launder clothing and linens.  Our natural laundry detergent brands are clean-rinsing and do not dull and damage your fabrics with stiff and sticky residue. Unlike conventional  laundry detergents, our green laundry brands will not prematurely age your fabrics with harsh chemicals that cause tears, fading and untimely wear.  We proudly sell Puretergent, Allens Naturally, Molly’s Suds, and Charlie’s Soap laundry products.

The Laundry Shoppe also sells the Gleener Ultimate Fuzz Remover.  The Gleener is two great tools in one. It is primarily a fabric shaver, but it also is equipped with a handy lint brush.  The Gleener is designed to tackle the unsightly pilling or little balls of fuzz that form on a variety of fabrics. Three inter-changeable blades allow the Gleener to tackle pilling on a variety of natural and synthetic fabrics.  Restores both beauty and purpose to a variety  of clothing and linen.  The Gleener also, works great on furniture, blankets,draperies, tablecloths and car upholstery.  We love this product because it just so simple to use, and comes in handy on a weekly basis in our home.

Another terrific product to have in your laundry room is Tear Mender Fabric and Leather Adhesive.  We call it our” little magic bottle”.  Non-Toxic Tear Mender easily gives you the ability to repair torn jeans, hem clothing, fix shoes and belts, mend upholstery, repair rugs and make quick auto fixes.  Don’t like to sew? Well, Tear Mender offers a hassle free way to create draperies, and pillows without a needle and thread. Great for a variety of craft needs.  Every home should have a bottle of Tear Mender on hand.  If you can easily and cheaply repair items at home they are less likely to become a landfill occupant.

Repurpose or Upcycle Old Clothing

Eventually even with proper care clothing or other textiles may fade, become irreversibly stained, damaged or simply not suitable for the original intended purpose. This is time to see if segments of the garment, blanket, curtain or other textile can be upcycled or repurposed for another use.

Old textiles can easily be turned into cleaning rags for dusting furniture, house cleaning or washing windows.  You will save on paper towels and sponges and can  launder the rags as needed. Simply cut into desired sizes. They work great for polishing the car and outdoor furniture, too.

Become a fashion designer by salvaging clothing. Turn pants into shorts if the bottom pant leg is damaged or torn. Stains on a long sleeves beg for repurposing into short sleeved shirts. If you don’t sew, your local dry cleaners may offer alteration services at a reasonable price.

Cut away stains, tears and worn spots to acquire fabric for gift-wrapping, quilting squares, scrap-booking. Create handbags, place mats, lamp shades, aprons or scarves from larger pieces. The possibilities are endless, left only to your imagination.

Realign: Support Eco-Fashion and Slow Fashion Movements

Altering how we purchase clothing and other textile goods can also go a long way to solving the textile waste problem.  As our budgets allow, it is a good practice to buy clothing and other manufactured textile goods that are of high quality.  Look at how a garment is sewn, will it handle many washes or repeated dry-cleaning?  Is it super trendy, and likely to be an item you become bored with vs a classically designed wardrobe piece? Learning how to achieve multiple looks with fewer timeless, but well constructed apparel pieces can provide you with a lasting wardrobe. Opt for fashion forward accessories to update your basic wardrobe to afford flair and flexibility.  The concept is to lower our textile consumption by slowing our fashion needs.  Seasonality and inexpensive  McFashion needs to be replaced in favor of sustainable manufacturing.

Now is the time to support eco-fashion.  Green clothing designs are less of a runway abstract these days, and more likely to be found in your local department store or neighborhood boutique. Search for labels that advise that the textile has been recycled, ethically made or sourced sustainably.

Consumers can also look to local vintage or thrift shops to search for textile treasures instead of allocating dollars to newly made goods.

Recycle or Donate

There are many organizations like the Salvation Army , Goodwill or Dress For Success where you  donate used clothing or other textile goods.  Keep your donation receipt as gifted items can earn you a tax credit.

textile recycling drop box

Some communities have specifically established textile recycling centers. They make it convenient for people to recycle clothing ,shoes and fabric goods. Fabrics are later “milled” into raw material at a textile recycling facility. If you don’t have a textile recycling center in your community, you may want to contact your elected officials about establishing a program.

The goal is to prevent textiles from needlessly being deposited into landfills.  With a conscious effort we can all make better choices. Preserve your wallet and the planet by buying textile products that lengthen the longevity of your wardrobe and home investments. We hope that you find the laundry care products at the Laundry Shoppe helpful in supporting textile waste reduction.



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