Graphic by Addison
Fashion recycling, like the name, is when you recycle your clothes instead of throwing them out. It is also part of textile recycling, in which old clothing and shoes are collected, sorted, and processed. Each item that you want to recycle goes through a procedure where it is checked to see if it is suitable for reuse. Some examples include clothes, shoes, cloth scraps, and rags. Fashion and textile recycling help the environment by cutting down on unnecessary waste. If you're unfamiliar with fashion recycling and environmentally-friendly practices, our official guide will help you get started.
More and more people are turning to fashion and textile recycling because of the need for a zero landfill society. Every year, over 80 billion garments are produced worldwide. And when those garments end up in landfills, the natural fibers can take hundreds of years to decompose. It is important to fashion recycle because those garments can release toxic methane and CO2 gas into the atmosphere.
If you’re considering fashion recycling, definitely start now. Once you start recycling, you’ll help the environment by decreasing landfill space requirements, reducing consumption of energy and water, help eliminate pollution, and lessen demand for dyes.
How exactly do manufacturers fashion recycle?
To start off, once you donate your clothing, the organizations and manufacturers will separate your clothing by color and material. Organizations who are in charge of this process want to make sure the materials are divided by wearable and unwearable. Unwearable clothing would be those that consists of holes, underwear, ripped or stained linens. Wearable clothing are those that can be worn again, meaning clothes that are not damaged, stained, or destroyed. When clothing is separated by color, there is no need to re-dye because it will save energy and avoid pollutants. Afterwards, your textiles and materials are shredded or pulled into fibers. Then, the fibers are cleaned and mixed through a carding process where they are re-spun, ready to be weaved or knitted. In the case that your clothing is polyester-based, it will be shredded and granulated to be processed into polyester chips.
How can you start fashion recycling?
So often we go shopping for clothes that we only end up wearing once, and then they just take up space in our closets. To fashion recycle while shopping, start looking for items you can wear at least 30 times. Only buying items you know you’ll wear over and over will reduce your climate change impact.
Start shopping less from fast fashion companies because they can be damaging to the environment. Fast fashion is a term used to describe clothing that is cheap and trendy, and samples runaway clothing or celebrity fashion. It’s damaging for the environment because often times, companies are creating garments at a high speed, which means more clothes are being disposed by consumers. This then leads to a huge amount of textile waste. You can spot a fast fashion company based on their thousands of styles, their short turnaround, and cheap low quality materials. To avoid fast fashion companies, try to go thrifting or even wear hand-me-down clothing from friends and family. Plus, the best part about this option is that you can save a ton of money.
If you have an item that is old or ripped, don’t throw it away! Try to sew it back or try tailoring it. Because chances are, the item just needs a little fixing and then it’ll be brand new again.
If you have clothing that you know you are never going to wear again, donate it or give it to a friend or family member. And if you have an event where you need something special to wear, consider borrowing from someone you know wears your size.
And finally, purchase clothing from manufacturers who have sustainable practices and materials. They are far less damaging than fast fashion companies.
Every little thing counts, so if you want to start fashion recycling, consider these options and recommend that family and friends do the same. Helping the environment starts with you, and remember to share your knowledge with others to raise awareness. So if you’re considering fashion recycling, it’s never too late to start!
My name is Linda Tran. I'm 24 years old from Boston and I'm majoring in Marketing with a concentration in Social Media at the Southern New Hampshire University. A fun fact about me is that I learned coding and HTML at the age of 11.