Photo by Bonnie Natko
In what is being hailed as an industry first, apparel brands, retailers, municipalities, nonprofits, and recyclers are banding together to promote the recycling of clothing and textiles. The Council for Textile Recycling has launched a new website to educate the public on the importance of responsible disposal—and not just garments that are “gently worn.” Americans generated 13.1 million pounds of textiles in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 15 percent of which was recovered for export or reprocessing. “Our goal is to have zero post-consumer textile waste going into landfills by 2037,” says Eric Stubin, who chairs the Maryland-based organization. “We’re educating people that clothing and textiles are among the most recyclable items in their home.”
Photo by William Murphy
The Council for Textile Recycling isn’t involved in the collection of waste in any capacity. Instead, it seeks to change the way we view the afterlife of our castoff clothes. Its website, which features the slogan “wear, donate, recycle,” will feature a resource library for consumers, municipalities, apparel and footwear brands, and retailers who are interested in creating textile-recycling programs. Also in the works: a database of charities, private-sector recyclers, and other stakeholders who want your garments, footwear, and household textiles, no matter what their condition.
“Consumers don’t realize 95 percent of all clothing and textiles is recyclable,” says Jackie King from the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association.
“Consumers don’t realize 95 percent of all clothing and textiles is recyclable,” says Jackie King, executive director of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association and member of the council’s board of directors. “As long as items are clean and dry, even those that are stained or torn, they can be processed by textile recyclers extending the end-of-life of the material.”