These days we often live in a wasteful society, many homes end up disposing of a lot of waste clothes and fabrics even though they are perfectly reusable. The existence of really cheap clothes retailers such as Primark and other low cost brands means that many people can afford to be wasteful, with a pair of jeans costing less than £10.00 (approx. $6.00) most people will just dispose of their old ones rather than repair them by stitching etc.
Cheap brand clothing often comes at a human cost where the people of poorer countries end up being utilised as cheap labour, how else could these really low retail prices be achieved? The positive news is that people are quickly learning the advantages of disposing clothing indiscriminately. Landfills are costly to maintain and a lot of the materials that end up there can be reused.
When clothes are no longer desirable, either because they are out of fashion or maybe looking a bit tatty and worse for wear then donation to a clothes recycling charity is always a good option. Even if they are not in a wear-able condition the charity can make use of them as they can sell them by the weight, waste cloth has a residual value and charities often send out bags to filled and left on your doorstep for collection. This can be a very good revenue stream for some charities but the sad fact is that some unscrupulous companies use charity recycling as a ruse to collect clothes and waste cloth through doorstep collections, often the named charity will not see much or any of the funds raised in this situation. If you do have clothes to donate then it’s advisable to either contact the charity direct or use a bon-a-fide collection module, these are usually found at your local council recycling centres.
Collection and Sorting of Fabrics
The waste cloth and fabric mainly comes from households. Charity organisations have been doing collections over the years. There are many needy people that can benefit from second hand clothing. The Red Cross, to name just one charity, is internationally involved in the collection and dispersal of clothing. There are various collection centres that are emptied periodically. Some of the collected items are often still in good condition and can given out to be worn by less fortunate or homeless people. The sorting processing separates the clothing that can be worn in the same condition from that which is completely worn out and needs to be recycled. Most of the worn out items are sheets, curtains, towels and similar fabrics. The sorting and grading may require some level of expertise.
Wearable clothing and other kinds of fabrics in good condition are put in a separate group. These good batches are packed in bales, marked and shipped for various destinations especially the developing countries. They are sold here at low prices and are a source of income for the local people. Some of the textiles that cannot be reused are recycled as rags or wiping cloths. These are handy in garages and various industrial areas for clean-up.
The Recycling Process At the recycling company, the fabrics that were not reused as clothes are graded by type as well as colour. This saves on the need for dying the fabrics. The aim of the recycling process is to use the old material to create new products while still maintaining the intrinsic value of the raw materials. It is an eco-friendly process that allows creation of new items without need for fresh material. This is a cost-effective and responsible way of getting usable items. The environment no longer has to handle excess waste and the economy benefits by having new products at a lower price. This is the future of sustainability in the textile industry.
The recycled products created are of a wide variety. The good fabric pieces can be used for making new clothing accessories for sale in stores. Pouches and bags and many other items can be made and sold at a fair price. Eclectic clothes may also be made and sold as a unique and fashionable look. The waste cloth and fabric that cannot be used in this way are selectively blended. These fibres are compressed for mattress production. They can also be used for making the comfortable padding in things like furniture.
The waste clothing can also be used as part of the insulation in vehicles when applied as filling material. Other uses include lining panels and roofing felts. Recycling waste fabric is a globally beneficial practice and there is still great potential for growth. As with any reusable item it is an environmental crime to send good usable materials to landfill, not only can clothes recycling help the more needy and less fortunate but shredding and reusing cloth and fabric saves lots of resources in the manufacturing of new clothes. Don’t be wasteful with your old clothes, make the effort to find somewhere that can reuse them, one man’s trash is another mans treasure.