Why is the textile waste diversion rate so important? It’s true that textile waste only takes up 4% of Canadian landfills. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but according to Island Parent Magazine, “If we took all the textiles thrown into landfills in Canada in a one-year period, we could build a solid structure as wide and tall as the Skydome three times over.”
As an environmentalist, it’s not the volume of textile waste in landfills so much as the toxicity and permanence of it that concerns me. It takes centuries for natural fibres to decompose. More durable synthetic fabrics are designed to not decompose at all. What a wasted resource! All those tonnes of textiles sitting forever in a landfill that could have been recycled in rags, upholstery, or mattresses.
What really frightens me is despite the fact that these fabrics are not decomposing, they are still releasing dangerous chemicals that poison the surrounding ground and water. As a piece of fabric just sits there, it releases CO2 gas and methane. Not to mention, every time we can recycle a piece of fabric, it keeps us from having to create a new piece of fabric, a very toxic process that releases very dangerous nitrous oxide.
Nothing goes to waste in the textile recycling industry. What cannot be reused is shredded, sanitized and recycled into rags and upholstery. This employs 7 direct and 15 indirect people per 1000 tonnes collected.
This process is a popular method of stable fundraising used by several charities. It’s sustainable, supports local economies through employment, reduces landfill volume as well as toxicity, all while raising money for charity.
Next time you do a closet purge, donate ALL of your textile waste, not just the good stuff. Textiles do not belong in landfills.
Used clothing donation bins accept: Clothes, Purses, Belts, Linens, Shoes, Boots, Drapes and Reading Glasses regardless of the condition.