Recycled clothing as Sculpture by artist, Derick Melander.
The WHAT and WHY:
In 2005 I started a personal journey toward sustainability with a New Year’s resolution to understand the impact of all my purchasing and consumption choices. Easier said than done. Search engines like Google and Bing were not well populated with sustainable product information. Majorities of manufacturer’s were in their sustainable infancy.
Americans dispose of 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year of which 99% could have been recycled. Subtracting the 48% sold to developing countries and the 17% that is currently recycled, that still puts 35% or 13.1 million tons of textiles and shoes into US landfills alone, according to the EPA.
As I was changing my seasonal closet wardrobe this year I took a closer look at the fashion trade and its current sustainable offerings. Most of the industry has moved towards improving the LCA of their products as well as the social/cultural/environmental responsibility of their manufacturing process. As textiles made from natural materials are water and energy intensive; manufacturers are finding better ways of designing with polymers than can be recycled into future garments.
Some high-end designers have pushed the sustainable envelope to another level and are producing biodegradable clothing and shoes.
I’m overjoyed that products like VerTerra, One Cup and One Moment 100% recyclable slippers are nurturing the eco-product trend. It’s not just Timberland, Tom’s, Teva and Patagonia anymore – hurray! Gucci announced its mostly biodegradable “Liquid Gold” castor oil seed plastic sunglasses, Icebreaker’s Merino Wool, Stella McCartney brought her biodegradable shoe soles to the market last month and even Puma is proposing they’re designing garments that can be cut-up, buried and used as fertilizer. You could even make your own bio-degradable clothes like UK’s fashion designer, Suzanne Lee; watch her 6 minute TED talk.
After all, much of the $774 billion dollar fashion industry has consumers buying and discarding clothing faster than ever. It’s imperative that we, consumers and manufacturers alike, make more sustainable choices.
Examine your wardrobe purchasing and disposal practices to decrease your impact on the world’s resources.
1.Practice the 4 R’s when disposing of your clothes.
2.Cut in strips and reuse them for vegetable ties to your garden stakes. You can also repurpose your sheets as shrub covers for winter.
3. Repurpose them into costumes for holidays like Halloween or your next child or adult costume party.
4. Hold a neighborhood/friend shoe or clothing swap party. Everyone brings ten garments/shoes, any leftovers go to a crisis center in your community.
5. Find a non-profit that resells clothing to support those in need.
6. Make a reclamation art project into designer fashion, a chair, like these artists:
Note: TerraBluTeams.org is a non-profit organization and does not receive any funds from the product links we suggest.
The Deep Dive:
Cradle to Cradle, Remaking the Way We Make Things
Recycle your old bras by donating to http://www.breastoasis.org/site/page.php?id=275
Donate your sports shoes to See Your Kicks Make a Comeback