Imagine this, you’re a sewer or crafter, and you spend hours designing, cutting, and sewing your next beautiful creation. The exhilaration of making something out of raw goods is thrilling and fun. But as you clean up and gather all the leftover bits and pieces of fabric, you have no choice but to dump them in the trash. Hmm, not so exhilarating. This has been my plight for years as a hobby sewer and now clothing designer. I literally carry every zipper, button, and sizeable scrap with me in the back of my mind as I’m tossing it, thinking about how long it’s going to take to break down. Thankfully natural fibres like cotton, linen, and wool will break down after a few years. But synthetics like polyester, acrylic, nylon, and spandex could sit there for decades! Check out this article on how heaps of tiny nylon and acrylic fibres from our synthetic fabrics are now turning up by the bucket on our shores. This stuff does not just go away. Now scale that up to thousands of factories all over the world creating heaps of scraps so huge you could swim in them. The volume of garbage created in making our clothes goes way beyond an upcycling project.
Until now! Finally a shift is on the horizon. Meet deBrand, possibly the coolest company I have encountered since I started Wizard Wear. deBrand is changing the way we deal with textile scraps. And they are becoming a pioneer in the movement to eliminate textile waste completely. Their main focus is on recycling manufacturing seconds that are already produced and need to be destroyed. Did you know that often companies can’t and won’t give these perfectly usable garments away because it devalues their brand? If the branded clothes don’t sell, they simply destroy them. Bummer, right? There are also outdated import/export laws that restrict certain goods from crossing the border until they are made completely unsale-able, which means destroying them through incineration to eliminate the branding rather than putting them to better use.
Luckily, deBrand is on the case. Their first big initiative was to develop ways to recycle Canadian scraps for local brands and turn them into really useful things. Like soundproofing insulation! Yeah, it’s true. Turns out old jeans, when shredded and pressed together make excellent baffling. In fact, here’s an image explaining a myriad of uses they have found for this shredded pressed material. Pretty cool stuff!
I am so excited for Wizard Wear to be working with deBrand. I’m stocking up my bags of scraps to bring them for shredding. My biggest challenge is coaching my manufacturer to actually save my production scraps. I have asked them 3 times for each of my productions and they keep forgetting! Honestly though, I give them the benefit of the doubt. It’s not part of their current production system and with thousands of garments being made every month, it’s a learning process for them to change it up. After all, we used to throw tin cans and newsprint and all sorts of things in the garbage but now most of us would never dream of doing such a thing. It’s a habit, like anything else.
The good news is deBrand and some other big players in the eco-clothing industry have formed a non-profit called the Textile Recovery Effort and are working in conjunction with a similar American effort to have textile waste completely banned from landfills by 2037. This really excites me. Just think, maybe one day beside our recycling boxes for newspaper, plastic, and metal, we’ll have a bin for shredding old clothes that are too ruined to give away. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Until then, if you want to have an impact on textile waste, focus on buying and wearing natural fibers and reusing, giving away, or repurposing old clothes as much as possible.
Happy Earth Day!
[bctt tweet=”Want to have an impact on clothing waste? Read up on textile recycling news!”