Clothes decompose after 200 or more years, which means dumps remain crowded for a very long time. What’s more, when the clothes begin to decompose, greenhouse gases like methane, which is more harmful than carbon, is emitted. Some companies have embarked on effective recycling methods to reduce the 300,000 tonnes of fashion waste going into landfills every year. This includes new technologies like chemical recycling, which involves separating raw materials from elastics and dyes to ensure effective use of new clothes. This approach can only reduce textile waste by a pretty small percentage hence, the need to embark on proactive methods of minimising waste in landfills. Here are ways to minimise clothing waste at home.
Convert to a Minimalist Life
The mantra ‘fewer is better’ has to be implemented in every household. Several companies have been set up to help individuals keep up with each season’s style without stuffing closets with clothing that needs to be disposed of within a few years. Homeowners can also commit to hosting clothing swaps with friends and neighbours. This way, they spend time fixing slightly worn out clothes, e.g., by sewing missing buttons, patching holes and learning appropriate washing methods to extend the life of their favourite bottoms or tops. By extending the life of clothing from one to two years, textile rubbish removal reduces significantly, and emissions from manufacturing and disposal of clothing are minimised by 24% every year.
Dispose of Old Clothing Responsibly
Most households send clothing donations through local initiatives, but only 10-15% of the hand-outs go to secondhand markets; the rest ends up in landfills. As such, households should donate to thrift shops and charities that are more likely to ensure the clothing goes to people in need. You can also sell them on sites like eBay or take unwearable items like old underwear, stained shirts or socks to the local textile recycling facility where they can be used as raw material for making things like cushion filling, rags and insulation. Alternatively, you can engage a rubbish removal company like Clearabee, which disposes of up to 90% of waste to a recycling plant. Some cities have started initiatives to help households reduce textile rubbish removal by setting up a day where people collect unwearable items in Clearabeebeebags and put them bins for downcycling.
Return to the Vendor
Various clothing manufacturers and retailers have set up initiatives to collect used clothing from households for upcycling into new products. An excellent example is that of John Lewis, a renowned clothing brand in the UK, which buys unwanted clothing from its clients, including old socks and underwear in a bid to reduce waste. The customers use an app to arrange for a pickup of the unwanted clothing bought from the brand, and they are paid regardless of its condition. The brand also takes back beds, sofas and large items like washing machines for donation to charities and recycling. In 2017, John Lewis took back up to 27,000 electrical appliances, 2000 used couches for upcycling and recycled up to 55,000 mattresses that were aimed for rubbish removal.
Invest in Timeless Clothing
Most textile rubbish removal comes about because we no longer wear clothes. Style plays an integral role as fashion-conscious users are compelled to wear trendy clothing thus, accumulating waste over time. Households can avoid this trend by buying timeless classics that never go out of style and last long. Avoid synthetics like nylon, polyester and spandex, which take long to degrade. You can also look for brands that offer repair services or try secondhand clothing, a more sustainable shopping practice.
Instead of disposing of your clothing for recycling, you can restyle some pieces to extend their life. Sites like Pinterest offer numerous DIY ideas on how to restyle long sleeves to short sleeves, refashion flares to skinny pants or shorten a hem or a dress.