Recycle, Reuse, Reduce: Earth Day Is April 22
by Cris Sgrott-Wheedleton
April 22 is Earth Day, and as we try to reach a billion acts of green, one of the categories we see a lot is excess clothing. We’ve been talking about organizing our wardrobes, but when you get rid of clothing, it’s important not to just throw it away. Donate or recycle – but don’t send clothing to the landfill. According to Earth911.com,
Clothing and textiles are nearly 100 percent recyclable. More and more people are recycling their old attire, whether it’s through donation, thrift store shopping or simple curbside recycling. The textile making process is energy and resource intensive. By recycling clothing you are cutting down on the number of resources needed to produce new clothing.
The Argument for Recycling Clothing
Clothing and household textiles currently make up 5.2% of the waste stream. Clothing that cannot be donated for consumer use can be recycled into wiping rags, paper, yarn, insulation and padding for carpets. Here are some more textile recycling facts from SMART:
- Reduces the need to create more landfill space.
- Reduces pollution created by incinerators.
- Provides low-cost clothing to low income households all over the world.
- Polyester, the most commonly used manufactured fiber, is made from petroleum in an energy-intensive process. The process emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and acid gases into the air. The process also uses a large amount of water for cooling.
- The manufacturing of nylon emits nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with a carbon footprint 310 times that of carbon dioxide.
- Rayon, derived from wood pulp, often relies on clearing old growth forests to make way for water-hungry eucalyptus trees, from which the fiber is derived.
- Cotton, found in most clothing, is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world. It takes one-third of a pound of pesticides to make one t-shirt.
- When manufacturing clothes, dyeing requires a hefty amount of water. Its fixatives often flow into rivers and sewers. Also, all “easy care” and “permanent press” cottons are treated with formaldehyde.
Recycling textiles saves the environment from tons of harsh chemicals, waste products and waste water used in the manufacturing of clothing as well.
There are many things we can do to be more responsible to the environment, from planting trees to participating in the March for Science. Keeping clothing out of the landfill is an easy, responsible way to help the environment.