Environmental Obsession: Textile Waste

“There are nowhere near enough people in America to absorb the mountains of castoffs, even if they were given away.” says Pietra Rivoli, a professor of international business at the McDonough School of Business of Georgetown University.

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 Annual Textile Waste by decade.

She writes that each year Americans purchase approximately 1 billion garments made in China, the equivalent of four pieces of clothing for every U.S. citizen. This result in  “NYC residents discard 193,000 tons of textiles every year, at a cost to… our environment.” Thats about Each year the U.S. discards an astonishing amount of clothing and other fabrics such as drapery, shoes, towels bedding etc. It is estimated that New Yorkers wast aoutand due to this nearly 5% of all landfills space are now occupied with textile waste.

Most need a visual. Allow me.



Most people aren’t aware that clothing and textiles are nearly 100 percent recyclable. More and more people are recyclingtheir old attire, whether it’s through donation, thrift store shopping or simple curbside recycling. The textile making process is energy and resource intensive.


From Fashion Institute of Technology to North Carolina Stat students are researching ways to return the massive waste in their fashion departments and

-Textiles are made from natural materials can be returned to the earth to create resources.

-Biodegradable fabrics: if something is biodegradable it just means it can be broken down naturally by bacteria. Natural, biodegradable fabrics include:








-Non-biodegradable fabrics: Basically anything that is manufactured and synthetic. This includes:





These textiles will eventually break down, but it can take up to 200 years.

-For eco fashion brands to label themselves ‘compostable’ 60-90% of the product must break down into C02 within 180 days in commercial composting facility.

-The general rule of thumb: if it is natural it can compost. Try sticking to bamboo fabrics and 100% (ethically made) cotton fabrics when it comes to composting.


How to compost textiles

Shred em’: Start off by getting the size down, you can cut things into little squares or just rip them into strands. They’ll break down quicker, and you can scatter the pieces evenly.

Remove anything that won’t biodegrade: This includes any plastics (look for tags!) metals such as buttons and zippers, and you can keep them for repairs.

Use a hot compost for faster results: Ok, hot compost involves a little more love and attention. Consider hot composting the ‘levelling up’, but if you’re keen on textile composting it is worth it. Hot composting can break down matter within 18 days. If you’re just starting off, or need a refresher check out our composting guides here and here.

Read Next: How To Upcycle Old Socks

Add worm friends to your compost: Worms are your best friends when it comes to composting. They produce some of the best fertiliser on the planet and are super efficient at processing organic waste.

When shopping, choose better: Aside from cutting down on how much you purchase, start choosing what fabrics you purchase. Be mindful of the fabrics you can pop in the compost once it reaches the end of its lifecycle, do some research and familiarise yourself with brands who actively leave out harsh chemicals and synthetic materials in their production methods.

Recycle what you can’t compost:

When it comes to clothes that just don’t fit, that don’t suit or that you don’t love anymore but are still in good condition try doing a clothing swap with a friend, take worn clothes directly to shelters or those living rough on the streets and everything else: give to charities.


bio degradable textile


companies like Freitag 




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