Take a look in your wardrobe right now. How many of those clothes have you not worn for a while? I am willing to wager that it is quite a few. You see; research suggests that around 30% of the clothes sitting in somebody’s home have not been worn for around a year. This is quite a startling figure to be honest. In fact; the figure becomes even more startling when you add up the total value of all of the clothes sitting in wardrobes unused for a year.
In the UK alone it is estimate that there is £30 billion worth of clothing…unused. Most of this ends up being sent to landfills eventually. In fact; 1.14 million tons of clothing is sent to the landfills each and every year. As you most likely know, this is causing huge problems to the environment. In fact, those words should be enough to convince you that you should be recycling used clothes. I do urge you to read on though. It will show you other ways in which the recycling of clothes can benefit the environment.
Clothes Recycling Reduces Impact On The Environment
Did you know that every ton of textiles that are tossed into a landfill increases carbon dioxide emissions by 3.6 tonnes? That is 3.6 tonnes worth of ozone layer damaging gas being produced. In short; not recycling clothes actually damages the environment. It contributes towards global warming. Sure; there are other things out there which contribute more to global warming than a lack of recycling clothes does. Every little helps though, right?
Reduces Landfills Required In The United Kingdom
Did you know that we are fast running out of landfill space in the United Kingdom? There are only a few places in the country where placing landfills is viable. When these spaces are filled up there is nowhere we can really turn (at the moment at least). The lack of landfill space is likely to cause huge problems in the future with regards to pollution.
A single piece of clothing takes many hundreds of years to start breaking down. They are quite bulky too which means that the lack of recycling clothes is pushing landfills to the breaking point. Remember; when clothes start to break down they will begin to release chemicals and the like into the environment. This causes a number of problems and landfills have been known to contribute to the pollution of water and death of animals. Again there are other things which are contributing to the landfill problem in this country. You do however have to realize that even the smallest things such as clothes recycling can have a huge impact on the environment in the future. Remember; if just a fraction of people started to recycle their clothing we would be ensuring that the landfills can keep operating for as long as possible and that the environment suffers the least amount of damage.
There Are People Out There Who Need Clothing
Many people in developed nations take clothing for granted. I know that this is a little bit of a strange thing to say. However you have to realise that there are people out there who can’t afford clothing. Wearing proper clothing may be a right for us, but there are people out there who are in genuine need of clothing and they are not able to get hold of it.
Clothes recycling has the ability to save somebody’s life. If you throw that clothing away then there will be less clothing out there available to those who have a genuine need for it. Recycled clothing will not just be for those on the other side of the globe either. Recycled clothing is often used to ensure that the people who live on the streets are kept warm.
There are some people out there who will hand off their clothing to a local cash for clothes centre. This is obviously fine. It is still going to be helping people. For example; if the unwanted items went to a cash for clothes shop then this clothing will be sold at a reduced price to those who may not necessarily be able to afford ‘new’ clothing all of the time (remember, the clothing that you are recycling may be old to you but to somebody else it is new. It is a whole new outfit for them!)
In short; clothes recycling should really make you feel good knowing that you are making a difference to this world!
If you are not convinced about the merits of recycling your clothing yet (although you really should be), it is worth covering a little bit about the damage that the production of your clothing causes to the environment.
Let’s assume that your clothing is made from cotton, as much of it is nowadays. It is not easy to grow cotton. In fact; cotton is one of the most damaging things to the environment. A single cotton farm can completely destroy the land around it. This makes it unusable for farming and the like. The growing of the cotton even leads to a pollution of the waterways. Now this may not cause too much of a problem if you are living in the United Kingdom (we don’t grow cotton here), but it does cause huge problems in those areas where it is grown. You see; many of the locations where cotton farming is carried out en-masse are in those locations where food and water are at a little bit of a premium. These countries rely on farming and the like. They do not want the land destroyed. They need it for the production of food. The problem is that if clothes are not recycled more cotton needs to be grown in order to keep up with the world’s demand. This means that even more land is destroyed. Increasing clothing recycling just by a small amount will quickly reduce the amount of impact cotton growing has in these locations.
Remember; the growing process is going to require a lot of pesticides. There is very little in the way of organic cotton farming out there (it does exist, but farmers of cotton really do not want their crops destroyed and thus do not use it). About 22.5% of the insecticides and 10% of pesticides each year are used on cotton farming alone. This is a huge number. These chemicals end up getting into the water supply rendering it undrinkable. It also leads to the death of animals and even causes damage to those working on the cotton farms. In short; it is not good at all.
Let’s veer away from the cotton farming a little now. Let’s talk about the dyes that are used to create the brilliant colours on this clothing. I have news for you here; these dyes are not organic. Most of them have been created using rather complex chemical combinations which pollute the environment. Not to mention the fact that most of the dyes out there contain heavy metals that can be dangerous to those that create the dyes. Again it is worth noting that the less the world recycles their clothing, the more dye needs to be produced, and the more the environment will become polluted.
That is not all. Most clothing nowadays is made from polyester or nylon. These actually cause more damage to the environment. You see; both of these are made from petrochemicals. They are a by-product of the oil refining process. As I am sure you can guess; these petrochemicals are not safe at all. Extracting them from the oil takes a lot of time and leads to a lot of pollution. Remember; we are now in a day and age where we absolutely must reduce our reliance on oil and the clothing industry is not really helping with that.
Let me give you a couple of stats which should hopefully make you really think about the impact that the production of clothing has on the environment:
- A single t-shirt requires 800 litres of water to make. This is a huge number. Most people do not even drink this amount of water in a year (it is recommended that people drink just 2 litres of water a day, so 730 litres a water each year). Crazy, right? Think about the shortage of water in some countries and you will realize just how much of an impact the ‘throwing away’ of water like this is.
- A tonne of clothing requires ten times more energy than it costs to produce steel or glass. Yep; the clothing industry is more damaging to the environment than the product of two products which we use in our everyday life.
- An average household will require about £1,700 worth of clothing each year. The environmental impact of this production is huge. The water required will fill up 1,000 bathtubs. The carbon emissions are equivalent to driving 6,000 miles too. In short; your clothing needs are more likely damaging the environment FAR MORE than your car is. Nobody ever talks about this, do they?
These figures do not even take into account the damage that the transport of clothing does to the environment. Remember; the vast majority of clothing is produced in ‘third world’ countries. Much of this clothing gets to the shores of the United Kingdom by boat (very little of it is flown). Do you realize how much pollution a large boat pumps out? Remember; these boats will be on the waters for weeks at a time in order to get those clothes delivered. They will constantly be pumping out pollution. Not to mention the fact that when the clothes do arrive in this country they still have to be distributed. That means the environment is going to be damaged even further! Clothes recycling often eliminates huge transportation impact on the environment simply because the clothes are more likely to be distributed in the local area.
Why Recycle Used Clothes?
As I have demonstrated throughout this page; it is absolutely vital that you start thinking about recycling your used clothing. Why? Because if you do not recycle clothing then you are doing your part towards destroying the world that we live in. Sure; the world is not that badly damaged at the moment, but it is getting there. Clothes recycling may not seem like a big thing in your mind, but it is almost certainly going to have an impact on the lives of your descendants. Consider recycling clothing today and you will be doing your part towards making the world a far better place to live in.
Why not look into ways in which you can recycle your clothing today? I am sure that there are plenty of stores in your local area looking to take that clothing off your hands and pay you per kilogram and hopefully get it into the hands of those who can really benefit from it. If you live in London and have any unwanted clothes in wearable condition then bring your items to our recycling centre and get paid!