What can be more noble than turning our waste into another person’s resource. Just think over for a while, what do you do with your old clothing? Are they still stacked on your cupboard rack or have they ended up in landfill or incinerator? You'll be amazed to know that around 11.9 million tons of textile waste or 4.7% of total municipal solid waste (MSW) was generated in 2007 in the USA! What happens to this textile waste? There's a full fledged textile recycling industry that takes care of this waste.
Textile Wastes and Their Recycling
There are two types of textile wastes. The apparel, clothing & garments and other forms of textiles coming from household sources is the post-consumer waste and the textile waste arising during yarns and fabric manufacturing or apparel-making processes is the post-industrial waste. The post-consumer waste is collected by many nonprofit organizations through door-to-door pickup within or otherwise municipal or county programs. Few people also go out of their way to make a drop off at the charitable organizations. Some counties collect used textiles with curbside recyclables pickup at regular intervals. Clothes are often given to the homeless, sold in charity shops or in developing countries. The un-wearable items are sold to merchants to be recycled and used as wiping cloths. Unsold and un-wearable clothing is sold as raw materials to textile recycling plants. Post industrial waste is generally reprocessed inhouse. Clippings from apparel manufacture are also used by fiber reclaimers to make garments, felts and blankets. Fashion designers also sometimes use recovered items for making garments and bags but this is on a very small scale.
Benefits of Textile Recycling
Textile recycling gives both, environmental and economic benefits. It avoids pollution occurring from energy intensive processes used to make textiles from new raw materials. Also the need for landfill space is reduced as also the pressure on new resources. Fibers are locally available so they don't have to be transported from abroad thus reducing pollution and saving energy once again. The textile waste doesn't have to be re-dyed or scoured and as such there is reduced consumption of chemicals and energy. Additionally waste water is also reduced as they don't have to be thoroughly washed with large volumes of water.
Contribute to Textile Recycling
Donate clothes to a textile bank or charitable organizations working for textile recycling. You can also take used clothing to local charity shops. Give old clothes, shoes, curtains, handbags etc. to jumble sales. Remember to tie shoes together. Buy second-hand clothes, preferably from a charity shop. Buy items that you are likely to wear for a long time – you need not sacrifice fashion, just choose carefully. Look for recycled contents in the apparels you buy. See the label. Buy wiping cloths instead of disposable paper products as it can be used repeatedly.