How Our Demand For Fashion Is Hurting The Environment & Why You Should Recycle Old Clothes

Updated: Jan 7, 2019

Do you have clothes taking up space in your closet that you don’t even wear anymore? Those jeans that don’t fit or a few old t-shirts you haven’t touched in years or a beat up pair of sneakers collecting dust?

With fast fashion chains such as Forever 21, Topshop and H&M, producing an obnoxious amount of cheaply made clothing on a weekly basis, pushing trends and seasons constantly, we buy a lot more clothes than we truly need. For example, Spanish fast-fashion retailer, Zara, may restock new designs twice a week instead of twice a season. Creating a domino effect for competitors to produce at the same pace, moving clothes through the system at an unprecedented rate, selling them for less and less. You can walk into one of these stores any day of the week and walk out with 8-12 items for less than $50, it’s great for your wallet but terrible for the planet.

We go through clothes and trends at a fast-forward pace and because they are so cheap and low quality, we don’t hold onto them for too long and even worse people throw away clothes when they can be recycled.

So what can you do with all the extra clothes you no longer use? There are a few options:

  1. You can sell them on a clothing app like Poshmark or Thread Up but it is time consuming and a lot of the clothes won’t sell as there is an abundance of clothes online already.

  2.  Have a yard sale and make some extra cash but be willing to sell your stuff at a low price.

  3. You can donate them to a local clothing drive or bin typically located in supermarket parking lots

  4. Give a younger family member or neighbor hand-me-downs.

  5. Recycle old clothes in exchange for coupons at participating stores (more in H&M blog post)

Don't throw away worn threads, recycle old clothes instead.

Whatever you decide to do with your extra threads please do not throw them in the garbage!! According to the Huffington Post, a, “survey found that the average American will toss out 81 pounds of clothing this year. That amounts to 26 billion pounds of textiles and clothes ending up in landfills…”  In fact, clothes thrown in landfills become toxic, “When natural fibers, like cotton, linen and silk, or semi-synthetic fibers created from plant-based cellulose, like rayon, Tencel and modal, are buried in a landfill, in one sense they act like food waste, producing the potent greenhouse gas methane as they degrade”. And unfortunately, you can’t compost old clothes like a banana peel because of all the chemicals that go into them and the materials they are made from such as polyester which is a form of plastic.

There are millions of people in need of clothing. And there are several ways to reuse or recycle old clothes, the options are there so do not be lazy about carrying a garbage bag of clothes somewhere because it really can make all the difference. Give your clothes a second life! As consumers we have a responsibility, to be aware of the products we purchase and their effects on the Earth and to dispose of those purchases consciously.

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