Textiles – WHY

Responsible Textile Diversion in Newburyport

Summary: Textiles (clothing, bedding, towels, cloth napkins and table cloths, etc) NEVER belong in curbside recycling. Ideally, not in trash either as there are so many ways to make better use (higher utility) of the materials and resources that went into your textiles.

Why should you be concerned or make the effort? Read on…

Did you know that there used to be only four seasons in the fashion industry? Know how many there are now? Fifty-two! That’s right – every week is considered a new “season” in the world of fast (cheap) fashion. And what you wore last week is no longer “in style” this week. This must change for the health of the planet.

According to the UNEP, “The fashion industry produces 20 per cent of global wastewater and 10 per cent of global carbon emissions – more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.”

By now, most people have heard about micro and nano particles of plastic permeating throughout the world including extremely remote places like the Arctic Ocean and North Pole. Scientists believe that plastics will soon outweigh fish in our oceans — and over 33% of these ocean plastics come from our clothing.

From Seaside Sustainability, a Gloucester-based organization: “About two-thirds of the clothes that exist worldwide are made from synthetic fibers, most of which are made from plastic. Synthetic fibers, including polyester, acrylic and nylon, are man-made, plastic-based fibers that are produced from oil.

Clothing is one of the largest sources of microplastics, which are plastic particles that are less than 5mm in diameter. When synthetic textiles are washed, they release plastic microfibers that go down the drain and travel through the sewage system. If they aren’t collected by wastewater treatment plants, these miniscule strands of fiber flow into waterways and eventually reach the ocean. Every year, half a million tons of microfibers from synthetic textiles are released into the ocean, accounting for over a third of microplastic pollution worldwide. This rapid accumulation of microplastics in our oceans poses a threat to the environment and aquatic species. As microplastics break down in the ocean, they release potent greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Overtime, microplastics emit more and more greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. When consumed by aquatic species, these tiny plastic fibers bioaccumulate in the food chain negatively impacting feeding behavior, reproduction, and larval development.”

So before you celebrate mask-less shopping at your favorite boutique, store, or website, please shop your closet first! And if you have to add to your closet, do so responsibly (thrift stores and/or high quality – durability is key!) And if you need to clean out to make room for new duds, please discard in the best, most sustainable ways possible.

In our next segment, we go through in detail what you should do with textiles you no longer need, regardless of their condition and how much life they have left in them. Can’t wait? See our chart at https://bit.ly/textilesNBPT!

Questions? Clarifications needed? Ideas to share? Did we miss something? Send us an email (TowardZeroWasteNewburyport@outlook.com)! We are always here to help! (and learn!)