What is Textile Waste?
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what is textile waste

According to ThreadCycle NYC, “New York City throws away 386,000 tons of textile waste a year, taking up 5-6% of our landfill space.” Did you know that 85% of textile waste is thrown into the garbage nationwide, 100% of which is recyclable when properly handled? Of course, it’s easier to throw scraps into the trash as factories and designers are not looking into repurposing it. Let’s learn more about how this is affecting us and our lifestyle choices.

What is Textile Waste?

Textile waste is products such as clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, towels, bedding, and such that are made up of materials that are no longer usable and end up in landfills. Textile waste is produced in every stage of the textile manufacturing process such as spinning, weaving, knitting, dyeing, finishing, and clothing.

Textile and material waste make up 9.5% of municipal solid waste generated in America every year. Each state has an unequal amount of space left in their landfills, which will cause some states and large cities to ship their trash out of the area, producing more greenhouse gases in the process of transportation than if it were to sit in a dump for a year. (1)

Why are garment and textile waste difficult to recycle?

When you think about recycling, you assume it’s only for paper, metals, and plastics. Recycling clothing was just not something we considered. It was always easier to just toss things into the trash and sometimes to donate them. But, did we ever think about how it is ending up in landfills and how it can affect our environment?  Some of the reasons why it’s so difficult to recycle textile waste are because:

  • Fast Fashion – is a term for high-fashion designs shown in catwalks replicated in mass-productions at lower cost to get into the hands of consumers. When things are out of style, they will be removed and either thrown away and not even upcycled.
  • Limited recycling options.
  • Very costly to sort and break down the materials.

As we continue to learn more as our environment is hurting, designers and companies are beginning to be more mindful when creating sustainable fashion.


What is Sustainable Fashion?

Sustainable fashion is a movement and process of fostering change to fashion products and the fashion system towards greater ecological integrity and social justice. Sustainable fashion concerns more than just addressing fashion textiles or products. It comprises addressing the whole system of fashion. Let’s learn how we can help reduce textile waste!

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