Fast fashion is a term given to the rapid changes in fashion trends at an incredibly fast pace along with the availability of new clothing at an affordable cost. It leads to a massive waste of clothes and strains our already packed-landfills. Manufacturing of new clothes also requires massive amounts of water, electricity, and other non-renewable resources. That is why textile waste recycling is indeed the need of the hour.
Here are some ways to recycle old clothes and reduce clothing or textile waste.
1. Buy less
You will be alarmed if you read the ‘Clothing waste facts’. The impact it has on our planet earth is terrible and if we want to leave this Earth for future generations, then we must take remedial steps. The easiest thing we can do in order to not waste clothes is to only buy what we need. Use all of the clothing that you buy. In case you do change your mind about a certain dress or shirt, then check if it can still be returned. You can also donate the item to charity or gift it to a loved one.
2. Buy durable clothes
When you buy good quality clothing, you will not have the need to buy more. This is the key to good waste management of clothes. So make a promise to yourself that you will buy durable clothes just once a year (even less!) and use them until they are worn out.
3. Take care of clothes so that they last longer
Wash your clothes on a gentle cycle in the washing machine and, better still, hand-wash clothes whenever you can. When you hand-wash clothes, you not only save water and electricity, but you also help them last longer. As far as possible, use cold water to wash clothes and avoid harsh chemical-based detergents. This will prevent our rivers from getting polluted and also help clothes last longer. If needed, get your delicates and expensive clothes dry cleaned so that they last longer. These simple tips can greatly extend the clothing’s life so you can buy less.
4. Repair and mend
Another easy way to not waste clothes is to repair and mend them if the need arises. White clothes develop stains. But you can easily remove these stains by rubbing some toothpaste, baking soda, and hydrogen peroxide and washing them off as usual. These days, special detergents are readily available to remove those unsightly sweat stains. Repairing and mending clothes properly can extend their life and use and help prevent unnecessary buying. You can also take care of minor tears by sewing them with a needle and thread or applying special adhesives on the inner side. Likewise, you can reinforce torn jeans with a colorful cloth or apply extra rivets on the pockets to make them stay longer.
Put up a yard sale and sell gently used clothes at marked down prices. This is especially true with kids’ clothing which is rarely used as a child outgrows them. You can also rent out your winter jackets or seasonal wear to people vacationing in colder places in the summer. Try to share your clothes with your siblings and friends. Encourage clothing recycling and spread the message about reducing clothing waste. Reuse clothes, buy secondhand clothes, use hand-me-downs, and do localized swaps.
6. Easy ways to reuse and up-cycle old t-shirts
Here are some easy ways and fun ideas to use up old t-shirts:
- If your t-shirts have stained armpits and are otherwise ruined, you can still use the graphic designs on them and up-style it into an attractive throw. Simply cut out the t-shirt graphic into squares and stitch the squares together. This is a great way not to waste clothes and you can use up all your old t-shirts in this manner.
- Recycle an old t-shirt as a mop – Cut up an old t-shirt into thin strips. Tie up the strips together and adjust them on an old mop to clean and wipe floors. For an idea as to how to do this, use this video guide.
- Use the clothes for pets – A great solution to textile waste is to utilize the clothing for your pet cat or dog. Your old t-shirts will keep Fido warm on winter days and you can even use an old t-shirt to cover up a cardboard box and make a cat’s den.
- Make a foot mat – To reuse all of your old t-shirts, cut them up into strips and weave each strip through the holes of a perforated rubber mat. Tie up the loose ends to create a beautiful and colorful rug or foot mat to place on the floor near your bed.
- Convert t-shirts into bags – There are multiple ways to do this and it is one of the best ways in which you can recycle old t-shirts. Here is a no-sew method to create totes from old t-shirts.
- Up-cycle a silky top or viscose t-shirt into a pillowcase – Cut off the sleeves of the top, and make fringes along the borders of the tee. Tie up these ‘strings’ and leave one side open to insert the pillow in.
7. Use up old socks as gloves or rags
T-shirts are not the only things you can reuse in order to prevent clothing wastage. Old socks make great mug-warmers and hand gloves. You can easily repurpose your old socks into many clever-creations. For ideas, use this guide.
8. Turn old camisoles into hair-bands or fashionable scarves
Camisoles have a stretchy fabric which is ideal for making scrunchies to tie the hair into a ponytail. Cut the cami into thin strips. Function the strips into knots, stitch the strips, and voila! You get a beautiful scrunchy. Likewise, you can utilize the camisole into making a beautiful stole or scarf to pair with your shirts or dresses. Check this video for a tutorial.
There are many ways to reduce wastage in fashion. All you need to do is use your creativity. And of course, you can always give away your gently used clothing to people who need them. After all; one man’s trash is always another man’s treasure. Happy recycling!