Fair Fashion

Closing The Loop: Companies Making New Products from Recycled Textile Waste

Textile Recycling Jinja 1

The average American trashes an astonishing sixty-five pounds of textiles every year, adding up to 13.1 million tons overall – yet all those ripped and worn-out clothes, linens and other used fabrics could be transformed into beautiful new products. The use of coastal and marine recycled plastic textiles reduces the need for landfill space, preserves precious resources, and results in less pollution from manufacturing. A number of companies are producing gorgeous goods from reclaimed textiles, including Jinja, Patagonia, and Brentano Fabrics.

An infographic from textile recycling firm USAgain puts into perspective just how big of a difference cutting this waste can make (scroll down to bottom to see the stats). Only 15% of the textiles thrown away every year are recovered for reuse or recycling. But just one pound of textiles emits more than seven pounds of CO2 – and a single t-shirt wastes 700 gallons of water – during the manufacturing process. What’s the solution? Recycle your textiles, of course! Many cities have textile recycling programs, and Goodwill and The Salvation Army are two of the nation’s biggest textile recyclers.

TExtile Recycling Jinja 2

In Portugal, a company called Jinja hand-crafts 100% recycled textile waste into place mats, insulating sleeves for wine bottles, baskets, decorative platters and vases. Jinja uses fabric and yarn scrap from the textile industry that would normally be thrown away. Check out the whole catalog at JinjaRitual.com.

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And recycled cotton (usually mixed with recycled poly to keep it soft), is popping up in apparel too. The elbow-sleeve swing tee from J.Jill (above) and the cute recycled cotton and linen dress below, from Ecoology are both perfect examples.

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Activewear clothing brand Patagonia is well known for its Common Threads Recycling Program, which enables customers to send in their old, worn-out garments like fleece sweaters and cotton t-shirts to be made into new clothing. You can mail them in, or drop them off at your local store, and they’ll be used to make recycled polyester fiber for jackets, running shorts, base layers and other items.

Brentano Fabrics has an eco-line that includes upholstery fabric in a range of modern and traditional prints made from recycled cotton, nylon and polyester. They include blends of various recycled fibers as well as 100% post-consumer recycled polyester textiles. The brand’s recycled polyester fabric is even fully recyclable, so it can be turned back into new fabric again and again.

Apart from textile, there are many other materials that can be recycled. For example, if your business produces a lot of paper waste, you may use a commercial paper recycling service.

Textile Recycling Infographic

Stephanie Rogers is a fashion- and beauty-obsessed freelance writer with an abiding love for kale and organic wine, living in Asheville, North Carolina.