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Recycled Fashion

Recycled Fashion

Recycled Fashion


Recycling Has Come A Long Way.  The recycling movement that began in the 1970s looks a whole lot different in 2018. Nowadays, even the thought of throwing anything metal, plastic or paper in the trash is considered an original sin. We even compost our leftovers and table scraps which were once reserved for the dog.

Fashion needs to clean up its act and sooner, rather than later. Being the number two polluter, we have seen a huge shift in consciousness, but not nearly enough is being done to combat the problem. One way to tackle the waste generated by the industry is by recycling. While there is nothing new about textile recycling, the markets for these fibers continues to evolve.

Textile recycling has been around for 150 years and has grown into an industry unto itself. The undertaking of extracting fibers from domestic waste coupled with turning pre and post consumer waste back into fibers is a multifaceted process. Mainly PET or polyethylene terephthalate, the chemical that makes polyester, is comprised from recycled soda bottles.

The United States is guilty of throwing out nearly 15 million tons of reusable clothing each year. In 2014, 16 million tons of textile waste was generated. Of this, only 2.62 million tons were recycled and 3.14 million pounds were used in energy recovery, whereas a whopping 10.46 million tons were sent to landfills. We need to do a better job of recycling these clothes and using the fibers we get from them to make new garments.

Currently, only about 0.1 percent of the recycled fibers collected are used to make new fabrics. Retailers, designers and manufacturers need to educate the consumers because they are the ones causing much of the problem. The average person buys 60% more clothing than they used to just 15 years ago and keeps them half as long, resulting in a huge amount of waste.

All that being said, we have gotten better. Waste that is caused by western countries. These countries then send nearly 34 tons of their used clothing to developing countries such as Africa. Then there is recycling used clothing to make new fabric. Currently there are three processing centers that obtain used clothing from the world over. They sort the garments based on color and fiber type, mechanically reduce the clothing to their original fiber state and weave these fibers into yarns before selling it to a manufacture to produce the final product.

There is more that needs to be done though, for nearly 100 percent of used clothing has the potential to be recycled, yet only 15 percent of consumer’s used clothing is recycled. Every two million tons of clothing that can be recycled is the equivalent of taking one million cars off the streets. If clothing life could be extended even by 3 months, it could reduce their carbon and water footprint by 5 to 10 percent.

The next time you have the urge to throw that sweater in the trash, think about giving it to the Goodwill. You’ll be helping the environment and reducing your personal carbon footprint.

Anthony Starr

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