85% of Textiles- That’s What We Waste

At the recent Textile Waste Summit in New York City, there were fashion designers creating patterns that produce fewer fabric scraps, the NYC Department of Sanitation talking about their Donate NYC app to find clothing collection bins around the city, and nonprofit organizations helping to educate and create markets for recycled fabrics. It was all to address a major area of waste—textiles.

According to the NYS Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (NYSAR)’s Re-Clothe NY Campaign, the average NY resident puts 70lbs of clothing, shoes and other textiles in the trash each year (it’s an average 80lbs/pp nationwide). That adds up to:

  • 1.4 billion lbs of clothing and textile waste per year in NY (NYSDEC)
  • 15 million tons wasted annually in the U.S. on whole.

Almost all fabrics can be recycled – pure fabric fibers can easily be recycled into new fabrics, and fabric blends (meaning those that combine cotton with polyester, for example) are a bit more difficult to recycle because the materials must be separated out, but it can be done. Unfortunately most of this waste is put in landfills, some is incinerated, and some is used to make car seat stuffing and insulation materials.

What is the best option for consumers? Only buy what you need and make it last. The second best option is clothing donation. Clothing that is clean and wearable can be donated to various thrift stores for resale such as Goodwill or Salvation Army. Anything that does not get sold within a certain time period is usually sent to developing nations for their second hand market.

For more info see:

Hear my radio interview with Dan Lilkas Rain of NYSAR here.

Live in NYC?

Apartment buildings with 10 or more units can sign up for refashionNYC, a partnership between NYC and Housing Works that provides convenient, in-building drop-off service for clothing, accessories, and textiles. Free donation bins available. NYC has a goal of zero waste to landfills by 2030! #0X30

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Beth Fiteni