Wednesday, 2 October 2013

How Your Old Socks Could Save The World

Reycling is one of the most important ways in which we can cut down on waste going to landfills, and drop energy emissions from manufacturing. But it's becoming clearer that we can do more to help out old Mother Earth, by simply going through our wardrobes a little more often.
A new report from the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claims that recycling of old clothes and textiles is a highly significant way of reducing greenhouse gases. According to the study, it has the impact of taking a million cars from the roads, and more than four times the impact of glass recycling. And yet, only 15% of waste textile products find their way into reycling programmes.
Lou Baty, president of SMART, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association says:
"Local governments need to capitalise on the positive environmental impact of clothing recycling programmes not only as it impacts greenhouse gases, but how it can also extend the lifecycles of landfills.
"The message the public needs to hear is 'Donate, recycle, don't throw away' when it comes to their clothing and household textiles."
The EPA would like to see textiles become a "top-of-mind" recyclable, in the same way that glass, plastic and paper are today. For that to happen, though, there will need to be infrastructure changes. Donating old, clean clothes is becoming easier, with clothes-bank hoppers outside many stores and supermarkets. But it still isn't as straightforward as dumping a washed can into the green bin.
And what about my old socks with the holes in them, or the t-shirt that I just can't get the red-wine stain out of? These are clearly not donatable items, and yet they can find new uses if broken down into their constituant fibres. Fabric recycling is a great idea, and I for one am fully behind it. But for it to take off, the process needs to be a no-brainer, something that can be rolled into your everyday routine without extra work. Once that happens, then we could all really start to see the benefits.

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