Recycled Clothing

Recycled clothing is a great principle!

What makes recycling your clothing such an important idea?

Did you know that a typical American discards over 25kgs (56lbs) in weight of clothes and shoes per year?

A quick calculation and this turns into 9 million tons of clothing of just clothes & shoes which are in some way recycled each year!

stacks of thrown out jeans shirts dresses

(Photo credit Matthew McDermott)

By anybodys standard that's a huge amount of clothing! It's increasing every year, this volume is forecasted to continue increasing by +5% a year!

The era of "disposable fashion" is firmly upon us!

How is clothing recycled?

This recycled clothing takes on a new life in the following ways:

  • Resale & charity shops take the items that still have a value, but these items must be in good condition.
  • Charities receive for distribution the items that are not quite good enough for the "shops".
  • The recycled clothing that does not "qualify" for the above is then sent to "textile recyclers" who in turn either send them to third world countries where they may provide welcome benefit to grateful new owners, or they will be completely recycled into cleaning cloths, padding or the like.

According to market sources around 50% of the items received by the "textile recyclers" are exported & the balance split fairly evenly between turning into cleaning rags & total recycled into padding!

reuse clothing on racks

(photo credit Ronald Duenas)

Second Life Clothing

But - there is also another way, recycled clothing or "second-life clothing" is the principle of making new clothes from parts of other clothes.

For example, two different shirts sewn together or scraps of material sewn into a skirt. I've done online searches for these clothes and have been disappointed by the results. I found items that were way overpriced in my mind - $160 for a recycled skirt is a bit much.

The more affordable items I found looked like rags sewn together. They just didn't have the finished style that I prefer. You may find some items to your liking but I was sadly disappointed with recycled clothes.

Separate and apart from this type of second life clothing is clothing made from recycled bottles and other man-made materials.

These are interesting fabrics but are not yet mainstream. Right now you can find this type of item in bulk orders through screen printing companies.

Celebs Recycle Jeans

Overall, I would say this category of eco friendly fashion has yet to become a style statement and is behind the other types of eco-friendly clothing.

One exception is a company called Reco Jeans which produces jeans made partially from recycled denim. Celebs Alanis Morrissette and Woody Harrelson have teamed up to promote this new eco line of jeans.

However although these jeans carry one of the highest percentages of recycled material in the jean industry, it is still only about 10% recycled material.

The issue is that recycled denim fibers are weaker than new denim and must be supplemented with new denim fibers in order to produce jeans that do not tear easily.

Fashionable Recycled Clothing?

If you know of, or you make, a fashionable line of recycled clothing or second life clothing please let me know. I would love to share the information with my readers.

recycled clothing fashion show

(photo credit Steve Rainwater)

The photo above is from a fashion show in Dallas featuring innovative fashion made from recycled items.

What about Recycled Clothing Crafts?

There is a growing trend to make crafts (and even selling them if you get good enough!) out of recycled clothing and other items such as plastic bags, pop can lids, and scrap fabrics. People are making and selling cool wall art, handbags, and even jewellry,

Watch for these items at your local farmers market.

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