Save the Earth, Buy Less Clothes.

Do you ever wonder about the after life of your clothing? When I find something at a great vintage store I wonder who it belonged to, where she wore it and the life she lead in it. While a grimy t-shirt may not fall into that fascination category I am curious about the life cycle of a garment. From the design to the retail to then secondary retail like TJ Max, Nordstrom Rack, Marshall’s etc then to your closet, then to donation and then what? Where do all these items go? My curiosity for clothing goes something like this:

About 80 percent of the donations are carted away by textile recyclers, says Jackie King, the executive director of Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), a trade association for textile recyclers. She says that means about 3.8 billion pounds of clothing that is donated each year is recycled.

“Thirty percent of the materials are made into wiping cloths that are used in commercial and industrial use,” she says.

About 20 percent of the donated clothes and textiles are converted into fibers that are then made into a variety of other products, including carpet padding, insulation for autos and homes, and pillow stuffing.

King says nearly half the donated clothes — about 45 percent — is exported.

According to the EPA, 2 million tons of clothing are recycled annually. That compares to 19.3 million tons of yard trimmings, 3.17 million tons of glass, 2.65 million tons of plastics and 0.72 million tons of aluminum.

“When comparing the amount of materials recycled to the overall impact on the environment, it is clear clothing and textiles needs to become a top‐of‐mind recyclable just like aluminum, plastic, glass, and paper. As the international trade association of for‐profit clothing recyclers, we have long known of the many positive aspects of clothing recycling. It’s very exciting to see the positive impact our member companies are having confirmed by the EPA,” says Jackie King, Executive Director of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART).

So lesson learned here, is only buy what you love and be selective about your choices so it doesn’t end up floating around the ocean and suffocating some rare animal that can eventually cure cancer or something…

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