Recycling and reusing clothes

The conversation about recycling and the environment are not new. Normally we do our job with plastic bottles and the correct recycle bin. But how about our clothes? What we should do with it? Is there a way to recycle clothes? Fortunately the answers is yes, there is a way to recycle “some” clothes. There are some companies doing this as Patagonia and H&M. In particular H&M Has a recycling program and released a campaign to receive clothes donations:

Here are some facts. Most of clothes end in the landfill. Why? Some of the reasons are similar to my post about how to recycle an old blender. I didn’t know anything about until I realized that I had so many clothes. Then I started a little research in the Internet. Here is what I’ve found:

  • According to a new report from the Council for Textile Recycling (CTR), the average American throws away 70 pounds. of clothing every year, which equals roughly 191 T-shirts…per person. Collectively, that’s approximately 3.8 billion pounds of waste.
  • Cotton is the world’s most commonly used natural fiber and is in nearly 40 percent of our clothing. It has a clean, wholesome image long cultivated by the garment industry. But the truth is that it is a thirsty little plant that drinks up more of its fair share of water. It is also one of the most chemically dependent crops in the world. While only 2.4% of the world’s cropland is planted with cotton, it consumes 10 percent of all agricultural chemicals and 25 percent of insecticides. Some genetically modified varieties, which are resistant to some insects and tolerant of some herbicides, now make up more than 20% of the world’s cotton crop.
  •  So far Existing cotton recycling methods make poor-quality fibers, and there is no efficient way to recycle garments of mixed materials, so the vast majority of clothes end up in landfill. In addition, the production of cotton destroys farmland and pollutes waterways.
  • Synthetic polyesters and nylon are made from petrochemicals, a byproduct of oil refining which increases our need and reliance on oil and increases harmful pollution which affects us all.
  • Dyes are creating a chemical Fukushima in Indonesia. The Citarum River is considered one of the most polluted rivers in the world due in great part to the hundreds of textile factories lining its shores. It also uses a lot of fresh water and the dye wastewater is discharged, often untreated, into nearby rivers, where it reaches the sea, eventually spreading around the globe.

One day I had to move. It is only when the moving happens one realizes that accumulation is not really necessary. We are used to buy new stuff even when we don’t really needed. Also sale is kind of a magic word. I must confess I was like that too. Until the day I needed to move. I checked my closet and I though: why do I have so many clothes? Then I started to pack my stuff. Gosh, it was a lot of stuff. A couple of luggage only with my clothes. I had so many clothes that some of them I didn’t  even remember I had. After that day my life and habits were changed. Instead of buy things that I don’t needed nor I used much, I started to spend money only on necessary stuff.

I have a procedure that works for me in order use my clothes until the very end. The procedure could be extended to other products. I started with clothes and at the end I had a feeling of joy. Joy because at the same time I was able to achieve goals such as:

  • my money was being well used
  • I wasn’t wasting
  • If a had to donate I was helping someone else
  • I was doing sort of recycling, reusing.

I know, for each person will work differently, but here is what I do and I hope it would help more people to achieve similar feelings of joy and also to recycle and reuse some clothes.

The first step is: stop the waste and only buy clothes you REALLY need and you will use a lot. Someone could say, but every time I buy clothes they’re necessary. Really? For me, every time I saw something I wanted to buy (mainly shirts) I asked myself: do I really need this? How many shirts/pants/shorts do I have at home? Are those clothes in my home really that useless? Do I have to buy new ones or I can still wear a little bit more? If I the answer was yes then I would buy otherwise no. It worked like magic. I started to buy only things I really needed. I was happy because I was not being wasteful and mainly because I was saving money.

The second step: to solve the problem at home. Too many clothes to wear. I divide clothes into categories. For example the shirts are divided into two categories: shirts (or pants, shorts, etc) to use normally at home and shirts to go out. The shirts to use at home are those shirts that are not really new. These are the ones losing color, with some stains, etc. The shirts to go out are the ones that I use to go out at night, to work (if the work needs a better dressing code), to play my shows (also work), etc. How will this division help? For some people the division is already a process to see which clothes will be donated. Some of the shirts could not fit anymore because it shinkred or the body magically changed (someone gained/lost weight). There are lot of old but usable t-shirts, blue jeans, ball caps and more that you may not want … but someone else does. Also, when deciding to donate clothes, ask yourself, if you were at a store would you buy it again?

After the division the goal is to wear clothes more, starting with the old ones. I know it is kind of contradictory, but why? The logic was simple, to use new clothes I had to use a lot the old ones until they’re not wearable anymore. When the clothes are not wearable anymore I replace that piece for one of the new ones (which at that time was not really new but as I wasn’t using it is kind of new).  There are some good reasons for that. First I spent money buy them. Second I don’t like to waste and it doesn’t matter my financial situation. Third if I buy something and I don’t really use I have the combined feeling of waste and bad investment.

After the clothes are not wearable, is there another way to reuse (recycle)? Yeap, there are some ways to reuse some of the clothes. The main idea here is: please don’t throw old clothes in the garbage. Here are some examples (ok, I know, some of them are good, some of them are really good and some of them are not that good):

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Patch-Your-Clothes/

http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycled-Clothes-Bib-with-Versatile-Pattern/

http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycled-Old-Clothes-Turn-White-Ribbed-Tanks-into/?ALLSTEPS

http://www.instructables.com/id/Twisted-scarf-making-from-old-clothes/?ALLSTEPS

http://www.instructables.com/id/Couch-Scarf-and-Flapper-Hat-from-Mens-Shirt/

http://www.instructables.com/id/Back-to-School-Make-Old-Clothes-New/

http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycled-Clothes-Jeans-Quilt/

Here are more about the topic:

http://www.recyclenow.com/what-to-do-with/clothing-textiles

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Textile_recycling

http://www.mac-recycling.com/why.html

http://www.resolutionreuse.com/make-a-difference-by-recycling-clothes/why-recycle-your-clothing/

http://www.alternet.org/environment/its-second-dirtiest-thing-world-and-youre-wearing-it

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