Conscientious Threads

  • By birdie@getorganizedcolumbus.com
  • 08 Jun, 2016
Clothing
For all the donating I do for clients, I find myself marveling at the ability of charities such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, National Kidney Services to absorb all the incoming materials. From my perspective, the quantities have increased dramatically. Just this past Friday, I was at a Goodwill in Oakley, Ohio. At 11:30 […] 
For all the donating I do for clients, I find myself marveling at the ability of charities such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, National Kidney Services to absorb all the incoming materials. From my perspective, the quantities have increased dramatically. Just this past Friday, I was at a Goodwill in Oakley, Ohio. At 11:30 in the morning, I pulled up to the back donation parking lot and realised all dozen bins were full, and 4 cars were waiting behind me. To Goodwill’s credit, when I went back after lunch, they had the bins under control and several more were available for use. Still, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is a limit to how much can be accepted, and-does our throw-away society test those limits?
This year especially, I have seen a striking increase in the amount of clothing being purged and donated. To illustrate our high consumption levels, the LA Times reports that we purchase 80 million pieces of clothing annually–a whopping 400% increase from a decade ago. And a statistic regarding our disposal practices from Wikipedia states that clothing is the fastest growing component of household waste and has risen 30% in the last 5 years. High consumption and High disposal is almost always a lethal environmental combination.
I began to wonder about something I had not considered before: the idea of sustainable clothing. Can it make a difference? And what is sustainable clothing and its associated best practices?
Sustainability from a pre-production standpoint means reducing the amount of resources needed to grow textile fibers–reducing the overall use of raw materials such as water or agrichemicals that are toxic to the environment. Sustainability post-production means practicing the three Rs: reusing, recycling, reducing.
According to Wikipedia, cotton is not a sustainable crop for a number of reasons and suggests these alternatives for sustainability:
    1. Organic Cotton uses no agrichemicals
    2.  
    3. Soy fabrics are made from soy husks-a byproduct of soy production-and are fully biodegradable post-production
    4.  
    5. Hemp fabric use less water to grow and is naturally pest resistant
    6.  
    7. Bamboo uses less water, grows quickly, and is naturally pest resistant
    8.  
    9. PET plastics–recycled plastic pellets that make polyester thread–30% less raw materials than virgin polyester
Post production, one of the fastest growing industries is textile recycling. Our fibers can be repurposed and upcycled to become insulation, stuffing, and other textile byproducts. Nearly 90% of clothing that goes to charities ends up recycled. If you have clothing that is not in good condition, simply mark the bag as “scrap material” and drop off at a local charity that practices textile recycling. Other post production best practices include buying less and purchasing better quality materials that last longer or that you will love longer.
At the end of the day, we vote with our wallets; and what we purchase or don’t purchase can a difference. Here is a list of sustainable brands and stores which follow sustainable practices: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/lifestyle/a-guide-to-buying-sustainable-fair-trade-and-vegan-clothing/
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By birdie@getorganizedcolumbus.com 01 Mar, 2017
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