Countries all over the world, especially developed ones like Australia and the US, are facing a constant threat of choking waste landfills. Recycling efforts are underway but has limited use only. Unfortunately, waste like textiles, plastics, and glass can take years to decompose! You can play your part by learning how to clean out your wardrobe without sending unneeded clothes to landfills.
An Australian Guide On How To Clear Clothes From Your Closet
- 6000 kg of textiles are dumped into landfills in Australia in every 10 minutes.
- The Federal Minister of the Environment, Sussan Ley, had to hold a roundtable conference on 26 May, 2021 to emphasize on the need to recycle textiles.
- It was agreed upon that there is an urgency to create circular economy in which environmentally unfriendly materials like textiles are reused rather than disposed of.
Cluttered closet is an issue common to every household. We stack piles until there is no room for another piece of garment. Then we feel the need to clean closet but sorting out clothes can be more confusing than it sounds.
Why Recycling On a Large Scale Is Not An Option?
Recycling involves collecting large volume of textiles. Then sorting them to separate items that can be recycled. Eventually, initiating different synthetic process to turn the garment into a material that is useful.
It may sound simple but that’s the last thing that it is. The first issue is lack of labor and automation. The sorting of clothes has to be done manually. This obviously takes a lot of time and physical resources.
Moreover, the recycling process itself required multiple processes to break down the blended fiber which can be technologically exhausting. A cumbersome process like this makes us wonder, is it REALLY worth it?
Although better technological solutions may come in the future, currently Australia does not host enough resources to take on an extensive textile recycling program. Luckily, there are alternatives that you can consider.
Donate and Feel Good!
- 16.5% of the donated textiles in Australia are sold to charity shops as per Charitable Recycling Australia statistic.
- Approximately 33% of the goods are sent overseas for reusing purposes.
- Lastly, 36% of these are downcycled.
You wear the clothes that fit, are your style, and go with your routine. What about the rest? You might consider giving good clothes that you don’t need anymore to a friend or a relative but if that option is not on the table, donation is a noble thing to consider.
Many online reports are a proof that Australia has a considerable proportion of population who can make use of clothing donations. The Charitable Recycling Organizations have shared their concerns that the relevant companies have the capacity to do better. Moreover, appropriate collection of donations may help tackle the issue of textile covering more and more waste landfills with every passing day.
Nonetheless, it can be confusing to select which clothes you should donate. That is up to you to decide but in any case, avoid sharing garments that are torn, stained, or smell weird.
- Companies like Upparel can help you sort out clothes for donation in exchange of a small fee.
- H&M and Zara are few of the many fashion stores that have introduced clothing bins at their stores for donation and charity collection.
Keep and Repurpose
Sustainable fashion is not just about buying high-quality clothes that will last longer but also going for trends or styles that you will be comfortable wearing for more than just a couple of times.
The more of such items you have in your closet, lesser would be need to give or throw away clothes.
If you see that there are items in the piles that you wear at least once or twice a week, there is no need to consider donating or reselling them. You should keep these clothes and adjust/repurpose if needed.
Some clothes are fit to wear after minor alterations or repairs. You can do it yourself or get help from a professional tailor. Luckily, Australian cities are crowded with repair shops and dressmakers who will be more than happy to help!
There is dual advantage to getting your older clothes repaired or altered. First of all, you will be helping out workers in the industry by utilizing their skills. Secondly, it will save a considerable amount of usable textile from getting dumped in the landfills. After all, professional steaming and pressing can make the garment as good as new!
Put It Aside For Someone Special
You don’t have to keep the clothes for yourself only. You can also put them aside as a gift for someone at a special occassion.
Think of it this way: It’s hard to say good-bye to a the fancy black silk scarf you wore to the prom in your high school. We are always sentimental about giving away this kind of stuff. So, you can save it as a gift for your daughter when she had to attend her own prom down the years.
Same goes for other clothing you may have bought on trip with friends. If these don’t fit you anymore, you can consider giving them as gift to someone in the group who shared the experience with you. That will help you clear clutter and serve as a personalized items for them.
Sell and Make Some Extra Money
- The market for collections and resale of secondhand clothing will double in next 5 years.
- Social apps like TikTok and Depop are expected to make a huge contribution in this regards.
- FaceBook Marketplace and eBay are also playing their part in normalizing the use of online stores to buy second-hand clothes.
- Arnsdorf and Kitx are working on launching take-back and exchange programs where visitors are encourage to give up loved items like old clothes in exchange of discount vouchers.
These are just some of the pointers published in the ThredUp 2021 Resale Report and don’t we agree?
There has been a drastic increase in the number of online consignment stores who are willing to share a portion of the profit that they make with the sellers on resale of clothes and other goods. Most recently, you will get to hear names like The RealReal, Poshmark, and Vestiaire as reliable places to buy hand-me-down clothing from.
Consequently, textile designers are also working with these sellers to extend life of the garments. They help make due changes to the clothe so it will be easier to sell and circulate in the community.
- The consignment store The RealReal is working in partnership with Stella McCartney, Gucci, and Burberry.
- Vestiaire has partnered with Alexander McQueen Label.
Explore New Technological Options In The Market
Although limited, new ventures are underway that are experimenting with how old textiles can be reused.
For example, cotton growers are trying to shred cotton textiles and add them to new crops. In another store, BlockTexx, an Australian Startup is building a large-scale recycling facility in Logan, Queensland. The business idea has already scored a funding of $5.5 million so there is hope that we will see the projectly publicly soon.
Last Option: Throw Out
- Textile waste makes up for 3% of the total household waste expelled at the landfills.
- Other items that are in this much quantity are preferably recycled such as steel, aluminum, plastic, or glass but clothing does not meet the same fate.
Throwing out pieces of garments you don’t need anymore is quite tempting. It is easiest way out when you wish to declutter your closet.
However, it is crucial to note that most of this will end up in waste landfills. That’s the last place that textile should go to! Clothe is non-biodegradable and does not decompose easily. Some synthetics can break it down but not without releasing harmful gases into the environment.
Charitable organizations have worked tirelessly on introduction of infrastructure and facilities that can help sort, recycle, resell clothes into rags or garments of lower quality.
Other than contributing towards donations by providing items to the organizations, you can help further by properly sorting and labelling the material before sending it away.