Recession, what recession? California’s textile waste soared from 330,000 tons in 1999 to 506,000 tons—a whopping 53 percent increase—despite the throes of an economic meltdown according to Calrecycle, the state’s department of recycling and recovery. Although the Golden State’s population grew by only 10 percent over the same period, the proportion of textiles in the residential waste stream leaped from 2.4 to 4.2 percent, a 75 percent hike.
Studies commissioned by other municipalities across the country reveal similar trends, which means that 1. Americans are burning money we don’t have on cheap but disposable threads and 2. either don’t know or don’t care about textile-recycling programs in our vicinity. In any case, nonprofits like Campus California, which services more than a thousand clothing-collection boxes in the San Francisco Bay Area, have their work cut out for them.
Unlike glass, plastic, or paper, textiles can’t be “blue-binned” for recycling without complications.
Unlike glass, plastic, or paper, textiles can’t be “blue-binned” for recycling without complications. Once soiled or damaged during collection or separation, any clothing becomes unsuitable for further use. Keeping garments out of the same pipeline as other recyclables is still the ideal solution (next to buying fewer clothes, that is).
Find a drop-off point near you by punching in “clothing” and your zip code into the search box at Earth911.