But there is another way. It's down to the ongoing trend in science to treat waste not as a problem, but as an opportunity. Civil engineer Yu-Fu Ko of California State University has been researching the use of waste textiles, and has come up with a surprising idea: using it to refit buidings that have been damaged by earthquakes.
Ko has hopes that waste fabric, when combined with a resin derived from plant sources, could be strong enough to shore up concrete structures like bridges and buildings that have suffered stress from a building wave of extreme weather events. He believes that this new material is even tough enough to use as a substrate in new builds: the mega-structures of the future.
His new matrix of fabric and resin has other advantages. It helps take pressure from rapidly depleting timber reserves, and is a friendly alternative to the carbon fibre material that's currently used in earthquake-damage repair. This is nasty stuff: tricky to handle and hazardous if the fibres are inhaled.
We're seeing a lot of radical and lateral thinking regarding the whole issue of waste, and Ko's resarch is a fine example of this. If it takes off, we can all feel a little less guilty about binning that worn-out pair of jeans (although repair is always an option...).
Read more on Yu-Fu Ko and his research at the California State University website.