Since the New Year’s Day launch, the phrase “tidying up” has taken on a whole new meaning, far removed from a grueling memory of Saturday morning routines with my mom and Kirk Franklin blasting on the stereo. Based on Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, released in 2011, the new hit Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo provides a method that guides consumers to declutter their closets, and other home spaces while delicately unveiling America’s textile-waste problem.
While I’m thrilled the world has a new sparked purpose behind reacquainting with and re-evaluating their garments, I can’t ignore the show’s void of discussing reuse and recycling tips before the ultimate toss to the garbage bag.
According to the EPA 2015 Report, an average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of used clothing, annually. Brooklyn’s population is over 2 million people, you do the math. The saddest misconceptions are that once thrown away, it disappears or once donated, it reaches those truly in need. Check out some other clothing facts here or here.
In such a throw away culture, it’s important to note that nothing goes “away.” Stats from the same EPA report, show that the United States approximately generated 262 million tons of municipal solid waste in 2015. Of the amount collected, 16 million tons were textiles, 2.5 million tons were recycled, 3 million tons burned and 10.5 million tons were landfilled!
Our spark-less garments turn sidewalk garbage piles become an overflowing mountain of methane pumping waste. Waste that sits ands rots in landfills. Landfills that are unfairly located in communities of color and low wealth. These easily targeted areas have been the biggest victims of waste and industrial pollution for decades. But here enters the plot twist, according to data collected by Waste Business Journal, over the next 3 years, the total landfill capacity in the U.S. is forecasted to decrease by more than 15%. This means by year 202 only 15 years of landfill capacity will remain for use, which means landfills are no longer a solution.
Donation centers and collection facilities may not be the best fit either. Most items are deemed “unusable” or “unsellable,” thus are sent to landfill. Only a few of Marie’s guests even mention repurposing or giving their unwanted goods to charities, which surprised me. There are so many sustainable options from upcycling your wardrobe, hosting or attending swaps, donating to researched charities or organizations by need, reselling or even textile composting!
Truth is, at some point, all of our garments gave us joy. It’s our job to allow for them to continue to be a joy for someone else as something else.
What are your favorite recycle methods for your clothing?
Peace & Positive Vibes