Recycled Arts News
Upcycled clothing is more than a fad; it's something that addresses social and environmental injustices around the world.
Americans throw away over 32 billion pounds of textiles each year. With clothes being made cheaper and cheaper, they wear out a lot faster. However, while some people throw away clothes because of a hole or ripped seam, the majority of clothing is thrown away simply because it doesn't fit or the person no longer likes it. Fast fashion has people treating clothing like disposable sporks. After wearing a new shirt or skirt only a few times, they throw it out for the next hot trend.
But wasteful habits in the clothing industry start way before products even reach consumers.
Crops like cotton use a large quantity of water and pollute the land with pesticides and herbicides. It takes 2,700 liters of water to grow the cotton to make one cotton shirt. That's enough to provide someone with drinking water for two and a half years. But synthetic materials aren't much better. "Polyester production for textiles released about 706 billion kg (1.5 trillion pounds) of greenhouse gases in 2015, the equivalent of 185 coal-fired power plants' annual emissions"." Not to mention, "70 million barrels of oil are needed to produce virgin polyester used in fabrics each year."
Most of the world's textile factories are in developing countries where workers can suffer unhealthy and unsafe working conditions. Xintang township in China is considered the "blue jean capital of the world" which is obvious by the dyes being dumped into the Pearl River making the water a sickly navy blue where fish and wildlife cannot survive.
"22 billion new clothing items are bought by Americans per year, with only 2 percent of those clothes being domestically manufactured." All of those shipping miles contribute to greenhouse gasses and social injustices for workers being exploited for the sake of cheap clothing.
However, change is among us and there is action you can take!
Oregon recently started a campaign called Make Every Thread Count to address wasteful habits surrounding clothing. Innovations now make it possible to make recycled water bottles into t-shirts! Soles4Souls takes donations of used footwear and donates it to those in need or recycles the rubber into running tracks and playground mats. Programs like Patagonia's Worn Wear offers services to repair old clothes and make them last longer.
There are even people upcycling old fabrics in our very own community! Check it out at the Recycled Arts Festival!
Reduce clothing waste in your own life by:
Buying clothes of good quality that will last and buying only what you will use
Caring for your clothing properly and mending when it gets worn
Buying clothes made locally, with organic/recycled materials, or second hand from thrift stores
Donating unwanted clothes to thrift stores or charities (2nd Hand Map)
Using worn out clothing scraps as material for new creations like t-shirt blankets, sock animals, quilted clothing, and more!
Patagonia's Worn Wear: https://wornwear.patagonia.com