Support Us

HML TEXTILE GUIDES

Textiles & Waste

In today’s economy, our textiles are largely designed for disposal. Fashion production has doubled in the last decade, but use-rates have dropped by 40% to an average of six wears before an item is disposed of. Fossil fuel driven models of “take, make, waste” in the industry leads to the landfilling or incineration of 87% of yearly textile inputs, costing the world $100 billion annually.1

As the world’s largest clothing exporter, US charities only sell 10-20% locally before shipping the remaining off to enter the secondhand global clothing trade.2 Communities across the globe don’t have the capacity to continue housing the US’s landfilled or donated textiles. But, much of what we consider to be waste still has value. We can use the power of our dollars, voices and votes to create a less wasteful industry.

1 Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, (2017, http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications)

2 “The Life Cycle of Secondhand Clothing.” Council for Textile Recycling, www.weardonaterecycle.org/about/clothing-life-cycle.html.

"The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe." -Orsola de Castro

DESIGN STRATEGIES

Prioritizing Recycled Feedstocks

Shifting our sourcing preferences to natural textile-to-textile recycled fabrics that are designed to be kept in-use such as organic hemp, linen or wool is key to conserving natural resources and ecosystem health.

Unpacking Deadstock

Although “deadstock” was originally defined as damaged fabric, in many cases it is simply overproduced fabric due to a manufacturer’s high yardage minimum. This surplus fabric can be sold by the manufacturer, which allows it to be cost-effective to overproduce fabric. Yet, very often surplus fabric is discarded.

What Waste Makes Visible

We produce and consume more than what’s possible to use. According to the OR Foundation’s project Dead White Man’s Clothes, people living in the global north need to re-examine our relationship with waste and consider the complex and exploitative systems our waste creates.

Key Product Considerations:

  • Pattern Efficiency: Can we reduce offcut waste through pattern efficiency and can the remnants be recycled?
  • Textile Construction: Does the textile have a print, directional weave, or width that will lower yields?
  • Material Quality: Is the material prone to rejection due to quality issues?
  • Value: Overall, does the garment promote quality and value in materials, or does it contribute to a culture of excessive consumption?

PRODUCT HIGHLIGHTS

These selected products represent some of many existing products that center strategies for reducing textile waste.

Also In This Series: HEALTH, CLIMATE, WATER, CIRCULARITY, & SOCIAL EQUITY

↑  Glossary