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With the average American throwing away approximately 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year, textile waste takes up nearly 5 percent of all landfill space, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This is an incredibly alarming number, especially when you consider how necessary this is. On top of this, it requires about 1,800 gallons of water just to grow enough cotton to produce just one pair of jeans. Keeping denim out of landfills should be a big priority for not only companies and organizations, but us as consumers. We’re going to take a look at some easy ways to recycle denim, so you can ensure you’re not contributing to this problem.
Why Clothing Doesn’t Belong in the Garbage
So, why is clothing so damaging when thrown into a landfill? Does this still apply to natural fibers? While the vast majority of fast fashion is made with non recyclable synthetic fibers, you may be surprised to know that even natural fibers are not safe to throw in the trash.
Stylist Jesse Whale explains the difference between natural fibers and synthetic fibers, and why neither of them is safe to end up in a landfill:
“Clothes are made of various fibers that fall into two groups—natural and synthetic.
Natural fibers such as cotton, flax, hemp, wool and silk and cellulosic manmade fibers such as viscose (rayon), modal, or lyocell, or Tencel will eventually decompose, producing acid leachate and releasing greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, both of which contribute to climate change.
But synthetic fibers such as polyester, spandex, acrylic or nylon will never biodegrade. Like plastic, textiles made of synthetic fibers will fill up valuable space in our landfills and remain there forever.”
Donate Them To A Thrift Store
Donating clothing to a thrift store or handing them down to a friend or family member is always going to be your best option for recycling your denim. Not only is your denim not ending up in a landfill, but it’s getting new life breathed into it by its new owner.
Recyclebank explains why donating your clothes to a thrift store is the best option for your jeans (if they’re still in good condition):
“The most well-known option, of course, is to sell or donate wearable jeans to your nearest thrift store, where your jeans can go on living in someone else’s closet. But if your jeans are ripped or stained beyond repair, don’t try to donate them where they’ll likely just be thrown in the trash.”
Turn Them Into Insulation
Did you know that denim makes great insulation? Denim insulation actually performs as well as fiberglass and cellulose with an average R-value of 3.5 per inch. It contains no formaldehyde, and is much safer than fiberglass for your skin and lungs.
Wendy Gabriel of Earth911 tells us about one such program that turns your denim into insulation:
“Blue Jeans Go Green denim recycling takes all your worn denim and recycles it into insulation. By donating to them, you are helping to keep textile waste out of our landfills and toxins out of our environment. Blue Jeans Go Green partners with retailers to make it easy to drop off your denim for recycling. If you don’t have a participating store near you, you can mail your denim to Blue Jeans Go Green.”
We offer a wide variety of waste disposal options, including how to safely dispose of your blue jeans, with services readily available online. Reach out to us to see what we can offer you.
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