The clothes we keep in our closets are constantly changing.
Whether it’s an old t-shirt that was accidentally stained, a pair of pants that no longer fit, or a sweater that just isn’t receiving the love it used to, we constantly change our wardrobes.
But before discarding those old clothes as trash, Amelia Trumble, the founder of Retold Recycling, reminds us to take a look at the bigger picture of what happens when these textiles are discarded and how useful they can still be.
“We can get people to have the mindset of, ‘I should not throw out that old pair of undies, there’s a better way of getting rid of that and not contributing to landfills,’” she stated.
When we hear words like pollution, recycling, or waste, clothing may not be the first thing that pops into our minds, but 80 per cent of the textiles produced each year end up in landfills making up roughly seven per cent of the world’s landfill waste.
Less than one per cent is being recycled.
It can be challenging to figure out how to prolong the life of these textile products to eliminate landfill waste and create a more circular economy.
A common option for prolonging the life of old clothes is donation.
Maria Bortles owns second-hand clothing store Trendy Seconds, which strives to give used clothing a second chance.
“They are called second-hand because they had a previous owner, not necessarily because they’re worn out,” she stated. “One garment can have multiple owners throughout its lifetime. If you don’t like it anymore, just resell it and that garment would be new to that person”.
After a piece of clothing has seemingly met its end, many think the only option is to throw it out, but this is simply not true.
Andrew Cameron is an employee at Value Village who is working to raise awareness of harmful waste practices.
“Even items with low quality can still be reused to some extent,” he stated. “So instead of just tossing it in a landfill like most people would, try to get some more life out of it even one more time.”
Trimble works with her colleagues at Retold Recycling to prolong the life of these textile products by reusing them in different ways.
“Companies create a sort of pulp, and they then use that broken-down [cloth] matter to create other things,” she said. “So that might be something like the inside of a car seat or insulation in low-income housing.”
Not only does this reduce waste and prolong textile usage, but it allows for a cheaper way to create products that are needed.
Whether you’re looking to get rid of some clothes, or looking to buy more, there are always ways to keep your closet more sustainable.