While this idea seems extreme, after all, CA's disposal ban targets hazardous waste, Wallender is making the argument that textiles are too valuable to be landfilled. The reuse industry is a growing industry. Textiles are quite possibly the most easily re-commoditized item from our waste stream. The vast majority of used clothes and shoes are simply re-sold as is. There is a rapidly growing second hand clothing retail market here and throwing away clothes represents a loss of valuable recyclables. Old worn out clothes can be recycled into insulation, rags and other uses. Clothes in the landfill can decompose, releasing methane, dyes and other chemicals that can leach into the soil.
According to the EPA, Americans discard approximately 13.1 million tons of textiles a year, and only about 15 percent of that is reclaimed for recycling. In California, despite the abundance of ‘reuse’ opportunities, there are about 500,000 tons of ‘textiles’ in California’s residential waste stream alone, making it the second largest ‘recyclable’ (as opposed to compostable) component in the residential waste stream.
Whereas banning the disposal of clothes is a drastic step, growing and supporting the second-hand retail and recycling market could bring new life to clothes and create local jobs.
For donation locations near you:
- Local thrift stores
- Goodwill and Salvation Army locator
- Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association
- USAgain Drop box