That’s a big question. Here’s a fast answer. Us.
Yup, the average American throws away 80lbs of clothing a year. As people who donate, resell, and give clothing to friends who will use it, that was a staggering fact to read. We wondered, should we nanny-cam our alleys and see who is throwing all this stuff away? But that seemed creepy, so we moved on to learning.
What we learned?
Most textile waste comes from post-consumer goods (aka the stuff we wear).
Only about 15% of the stuff we wear makes it to another human to use or is recycled.
Where as 85% of the scraps from the manufacturing process of clothing are go to textile recyclers.
As a nation, we created 16 million tons of textile waste in 2015. That is a 275% increase from 5.8 million tons of textile waste generated in 1990.
What the sock?! Why has there been a 275% increase in 25 years? Did our population grow by 275%? Nope. It’s called fast fashion.
What is Fast Fashion?
It’s the speed at which cheap, new trendy clothing makes it to market. Quantity over quality. And how quickly that trend passes and those clothes end up in the garbage.
It’s what has loaded our landfills with textile waste.
This isn’t just a U.S. problem. Around the world, we purchase more than 80 billion pieces of clothing a year. That 400% more than 20 years ago.
The lower cost of fashion is one of the main drivers of the increase in sales. However, with lower cost comes lower quality, so items don’t last long and there's a feeling that it’s disposable.
So what if I only wore that plaid dress once and it’s not in style now, it only cost 20 bucks.
What can we do to cut down on textile waste?
- Be more deliberate in your purchases. It’s fun to get new stuff, but if it’s low quality and you’re only going to wear it once, is it worth it when you look at the bigger picture?
- Buy quality items that last. Ok, they cost more but that pair of boots I bought 15 years ago are still in my closet (and they get worn!).
- Repair items. It’s amazingly easy to fix a tear along a seam yourself or to sew a button back on. And the time you invest is little compared to the cost of a new item. Don’t want to repair it yourself? Find a good dry cleaner or seamstress. Most towns have one, and if you live in a city they are probably on every block. They can make fixes big and small for a fraction of the cost of a new high quality item.
- Donate. If you’ve gotten all the use out of an item and it’s still wearable, donate it to an organization to get it in the hands of someone else who needs it.
- Recycle. Some organizations that take donations will also take items that can’t be worn and recycle them. But be sure to do your research! Many only want to take items that can be resold and will throw out the rest.
- Join the Basic Revolution! Send us your old, your hole-y, your worn! We’ll make sure it gets to the right place … aka not a landfill.
Here’s to happier toes and a healthier planet!