The throw away mentality of America is causing a waste crisis. Buying cheap products and then just buying a new one when it falls apart has become way too common. We think we are saving money but it ends up costing us more financially AND environmentally. Even in this day and age of a more environmentally conscious America, we still throw away approximately 14 million tons of clothing alone each year - or 80 pounds a person - according to a Sept. 2016 Newsweek article on Fast Fashion.
Now, you may think because you consign or donate your unwanted clothes, yours don't go in a landfill. Yes and no. "According to the Council for Textile Recycling, charities overall only sell 20% of the clothing donated to them at their retail outlets." The remainder is either sold to textile recyclers (Great? Not quite. We'll come back to this.) or is shipped all over the globe to be sold as is. "Japan gets the second nicest vintage items after the U.S. stores, South American countries get the mid-grade stuff, Eastern European countries get the cold-weather clothes, and African countries get the low-grade stuff no one else will take." And when they don't sell there - landfill. Now, East African leaders are proposing a ban on importing second hand clothing, due to the negative impact on their own clothing manufacturing. If that happens, even more for the landfills.
Let's go back to textile recycling - a great concept that is still in its infancy. There are the complexities of the sorting process, the limited technology of recycling the materials, and the often poor quality of fabric these recycled textiles create. So now, we have an extremely expensive process to produce clothing bound to fall apart long before clothing should. Therefore, we are still fueling the fast fashion industry and the throw away mentality. (And we haven't even touched on the toxic chemicals that get leached into the environment from clothing production and the breakdown of treated materials in landfills. But that's a blog for another day.)
Well, we can't leave you depressed and ready to join a nudist colony. There are both established and start up companies furiously working to create sustainable processes and closed loop technology for recycling clothing and textiles. "The EPA estimates that diverting all of those [14 million tons of] often-toxic trashed textiles into a recycling program would be the environmental equivalent of taking 7.3 million cars and their carbon dioxide emissions off the road." These technologies may be 10+ years away but strides have already been made in pure cotton recycling, according to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
In the meantime, be conscious of your shopping choices and just "buy better". There are many companies like Hoadin who create quality products that are built to last and will even repair or recycle products as needed for free. We are doing our part to combat waste, care for the environment and save you money in the long run.
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