Americans now buy five times more clothing than they did in the 1980s, according to a 2014 article from The Atlantic. But what happens to those clothes when they go out of style or no longer fit?
Only 15 percent of used clothing in the United States gets recycled or donated, according to an April 2013 report from the Council for Textile Recycling. The rest goes into landfills, meaning textiles have one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material.
The average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing every year, which is roughly the equivalent of 191 T-shirts per person.
Consider the options before throwing out textiles: Mending and reusing clothing in new ways can bring life back to old garments. For people who don’t know how to sew on a button or stitch up a seam, Tina Marks, owner of Straight Grain Studio, offers sewing classes at her store.
Marks is a proponent of recycling and uses old textiles to create new pieces, such as a colorful wallet woven from silk scraps. The growing trend of cheap clothes leaves people with little incentive to take care of them, Marks says. Recycling is a way to curb that trend.
“Newness is what keeps the fashion industry going, but that doesn’t mean that we can keep using our resources up,” Marks says. “Clothing can’t be disposable forever.” The numbers below show why they shouldn’t be.
25 billion pounds of textiles are generated in the United States per year alone, not including imports. That’s about 82 pounds per resident.
70 pounds is the average amount of clothing and textile each person in the U.S. throws away annually. Up to 95 percent of the textiles could be recycled each year.
20,000 liters of water are saved for every kilogram of cotton that is recycled instead of thrown away. Old cotton T-shirts can be cut up and used as rags for cleaning.
15 percent of textiles are recycled per year. That's a total of 3.8 billion pounds.
34.5 billion pounds is the projected amount of textile waste that the U.S. will produce by 2019. This is an increase of about 53 percent since 1999.
70 percent of the world's population wears secondhand clothing. The world supply of used women's clothing is at least seven times more than the used proportion of men's.
45 percent of recycled textiles are worn as secondhand clothing. The rest are either turned into industrial rags or reprocessed into carpet, padding or insulation. Some are simply unusable.
7 billion pounds of used clothing and worn textile products exported from the United States between 1990 and 2003.
Clothing donation sites in CoMo
Upscale Resale, 1729 West Broadway, Wed. and Fri., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 445-4803
Straight Grain Studio, 1610 Paris Road, Mon.–Fri., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 777-6592
The Wardrobe, 715 Park Ave., Wed.–Fri., 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon, 442-3260
The Salvation Army on Walnut, 23 E. Walnut St., Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 443-2786
The Salvation Army on Parkade, 1304 Parkade Blvd., Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 449-5202
Goodwill, 507 E. Nifong Blvd., Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 442-8527