New Year’s Resolution: Tackle Textile Waste

January 8, 2014Clothing-Waste-1

Think back to high school: all your friends in one room, trying to figure out what to wear, realizing you have already worn the same outfit over and over again. The natural solution? Raid each other’s closets! That’s right…swapping. It is a solution that an up and coming company called Swapdom has built a business upon to help save their earth from textile waste while keeping everyone stylish.

Below, Swapdom tells us how textile waste affects the planet and how their company is taking action to help change things:

A riddle for you: what New Year’s resolution is good for your life, better for the world at large, and fairy dusted with fun? If the answer isn’t obvious immediately, go and take a look in your closet. Yep, all you smarty pants got it: reducing the wastefulness of your wardrobe habits.

Clothing and textile waste is a problem so staggering, it’ll surprise the pants right off you, but it doesn’t mean you have to swear off acquiring new duds forever if you want to make a difference. Thanks to the peer-to-peer, internet-fueled sharing economy you can use swapping to make your 2014 more environmentally conscious, less wasteful for your wallet, and equally as stylish as past years!

Unseemly Seams—Clothing Waste Statistics
If The Count of Sesame Street fame were to count out each ton of clothing wasted by Americans alone every year, he’d be counting and ha-ha-ha-ing for an eternity. That’s because, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, a whopping 13.1 million tons of textile waste are sent by Americans to landfills every year (and that’s a stat from 2011!). While some of this waste is recovered for recycling and export, rescued and reused material only totals 13.9% of clothes and shoes sent to the trash.

If this is news to you, you’re in good company; almost 80% of Americans have no idea clothing waste is a problem in such dire need of addressing. This makes it all the more important for everyone who knows the skinny on this hefty issue to do what they can to reduce textile waste. But how to start making a difference? Let’s start by examining the first option that probably popped into your mind: donating unused duds.Clothing-Donations

What Happens to Your Clothing Donations
So there you are, lugging a garbage bag the size of a large child to Goodwill; it’s a scene many of us have seen during closet clean outs of yore. You walk off with a clean conscious, imagining your clothes swinging on the stores overstuffed racks, but what really happens to your clothes may come as a surprise.

An insightful article from NPR, tied together the stats in a neat package: Only a slender 20% of donated duds actually make it onto thrift store racks. The remaining 80%, roughly 3.8 billion pounds of textiles, are ferried off to textile recyclers. Of this 80%, 20% are fashioned into a new fiber – often insulation, pillow stuffing, or carpet padding, and 45% are exported. Exported? Yep, you read that right.

Excess donations are bundled and sold abroad. In some warehouse far, far away, these clothes are then sorted into shipments tailored to various markets, nearby and afar. While these clothes are indeed put to good use, the carbon footprint kicked into action by these sizable shipping efforts is one the world could happily do without.

Solutions and Resolutions
If you’re selfless to an unbelievable degree, you’d probably flat out stop buying clothes after reading all this. But let’s be honest, acquiring new wearables on the regular is an addiction that’s harder to kick than a flat soccer ball. So instead of resolving to adopt the life of an ascetic (which like most other resolutions would likely last all of, oh, say, one month), resolve to trade shopping for swapping.

By swapping, you can indulge nifty new duds without losing sleep over the 700+ gallons of water (22 bathtubs worth!) used to manufacture that new cotton shirt you’re on the point of buying. Consider the following to understand the impact we could have: “If all 300 million Americans reused just one T-shirt, we’d save 210 billion gallons of water and 1 million pounds of CO2” (source). And this doesn’t even take into account all the pollution resulting from textile dyeing and processing. Though these waste and pollution issues are terrifyingly big, it doesn’t mean resolving to have an impact requires an elephantine effort. Rather, making a dent in these disturbances is easy as making macaroni.

photoWith Swapdom’s simple circle swapping, you can make a difference with a camera and a computer. Armed with a few simple photo tips, you can upload no-longer-needed items and set up swaps without even leaving your house. Then, after Swapdom’s amazing algorithm has found you a swap, you can drop off your boxed up beauty at UPS on your way around town. Not only will you save textiles from a destitute destiny in landfills, you’ll receive a rad item in return. Plus, you’ll spend much less money and erase the environmental impact of buying new things.

If we all embrace a resolution to swap, we’ll keep down carbon footprints, eradicate a worrisome amount of waste, and together work towards a better (and just as stylish) world.

Fashionistas, following the love is blind concept, are sometimes unaware of the extreme amount waste caused by their passion. Lucky for all of us out there who are sporting our designer rose colored glasses, we can get excited about this environmentally-friendly solution.

Article courtesy of  Swapdom

Photo Credits (in order): Tim Mitchell, Inhabitat, Swapdom

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