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Textile Waste: How It Is Destroying the Planet


Did you know that the textile industry is the world’s second biggest polluter? When talking of environmental concerns and waste, the clothing industry rarely comes to mind. However, the fashion industry has become a huge threat to the environment over the past few decades with its unsustainable practices.


What Is Textile Waste?

Textile waste is more than just discarded fabrics. It also includes the various waste materials discharged or created in the manufacturing and distributing process. This includes garments that are no longer fit for their intended use, excessive fabric from factories, and discarded “old” items.


The Effects of Discarded Textiles

Producing a single clothing item requires an enormous amount of resources. However, this hasn’t stopped consumers from discarding old and worn out clothes. With the onset of fast fashion, the demand for new clothing has multiplied alarmingly.


As new trends hit the clothing stores each season, previous collections are disposed off. A lot of these discarded garments end up as textile waste in landfills. According to a report by The Environmental Protection Agency, nearly 12.8 million tons of textile waste is discarded each year instead of being recycled.


And that’s not all! Many times, the raw materials intended for use as clothing end up as textile waste themselves. According to a 2005 study, nearly 15% of the total fabric is collected from cutting room floors in factories as textile waste.


The average American disposes off 81 pounds of textiles each year.  That’s a lot of clothing gone to waste! The increasing amount has lead to depletion of resources and reserves, required for both, production and disposal.


Landfills Crisis 

Over 12.8 million tons of textile waste makes its way to landfills each year. Not only does this take up a huge space, it also negatively impacts the environment.


Firstly, it can take several years for textiles to decompose. Once they do begin to breakdown, they release greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These can increase the planet’s temperature, leading toward global warming and its harmful consequences.


Instead of recycling discarded clothing, it’s being sent to landfills. This is causing environmental threats that can be prevented by repurposing old clothes.


Nearly 70% of the world’s population today uses secondhand clothes available at thrift stores. This has helped reduce the carbon footprint, and is a sustainable way of utilizing old clothing.


Want to play your part in conserving the planet’s resources? Donate your old clothes and used shoes to Whitehouse & Schapiro, LLC. We recycle mixed rags and old footwear, repurposing them for further use!

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