The volume of clothing Americans throw away each year has DOUBLED in the last 20 years. Although textile waste only represents 5.8% of MSW waste generated each year, many would be surprised to find that 85% of textile waste ends up in landfills or incinerators. Textiles can also take up to 200+ years to decompose in landfills making this a huge environmental issue.

Despite almost every kind of fabric being recyclable, the textile recycling rate is currently one of the lowest compared to other materials. Although a good portion of these numbers comes from pre-consumer waste, meaning the wasted scraps and fabrics on the production side, there are still many steps we, as consumers, can take to reduce these numbers.

Post-consumer waste is generated by used clothing, towels, bedsheets, carpets, rugs, upholstery, and other textile items.

How do we, as consumers, reduce textile waste?

It returns to the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

First off – Do NOT throw away your used clothing or textiles!

Your used textiles can be given a second life in many ways, such as being repurposed into new clothing, housing insulation, rags, or even stuffed animals. Even your gross old underwear, tattered clothes, and fabric scraps can be recycled and given a second life as long as they have been cleaned and dried.

Here are some great textile recycling programs:

Some other ways to recycle your old clothing that’s in wearable condition would be selling your clothing to your local thrift shop or on Poshmark and donating your clothing in donation bins or clothing drives.

Another way to help lower your environmental footprint would be shopping secondhand or only from brands that do not contribute to fast fashion.

Follow these tips to lower your environmental footprint and to help make America green again!