Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day - Climate Change and Textile Recycling

When I considered signing up for Blog Action Day, I wondered what I could really say or contribute in the way of something positive regarding the chosen topic " Climate Change". I'm not a hard core environmentalist or a " rocket scientist" with reams of research or data to offer up but like so many individuals, I can start to initiate change in my own home and local community.

What do I know best? - well being a person who creates with textiles on a daily basis, I have an appreciation and love for fabrics and fibre. However, the processes and manufacture of these very fabrics I adore is having a major negative impact on our world environment and is contributing to global warming and making detrimental changes to our climate.

Governments, manufacturers and environmental lobbyists are slowly creating changes to processes and years of neglect and mismanagement of the industry which has caused pollution, energy and water waste in astronomical and devastating quantities. But as individuals, how can we implement changes in our own back yards so to speak? Well, for myself, I can begin to share information with the public at large about the positive aspects of textile recycling.

I was shocked to discover that in Canada alone, there is an average of 7 kilograms of textile waste per person in our landfills and that accounts for 4% of all materials in Canadian landfills, while the average American throws away about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles in their garbage and dumps per year. Most of these articles are tossed because they are considered damaged, worn out, outgrown or out of fashion. We are indeed a throw away society. People no longer bother to sew on a button or replace a zipper or alter clothing. Home economics is no longer taught in the schools so children are not being educated in the skills necessary to carry out these tasks. Often both parents work outside of the home and it is economically far easier to replace an item than to make either the time or effort to repair it.

Alas, textile recycling programs are not as widely available in North America as other types of programs such as glass, paper or aluminum recycling but it would certainly not hurt to make enquiries as to the feasability of such a program in your community or to support said programs if they do in fact exist. It seems that more often than not, unwanted clothing and household textiles are either donated to charities or tragically end up in our landfill sites. Synthetic fibres will not decompose and while wool garments do, they produce methane gas which causes global warming. It is estimated that 38% of Canada's methane emmissions come from landfill sites.

So what can we do to make a difference? We can definitely take better care of our garments and household textiles by repairing or altering these items instead of disposing of them. We can be more aware, research and educate ourselves about the types of fabrics we are purchasing and attempt to buy more natural and organic materials and clothing.

Give your used and unwanted textiles to charities and thrift shops regardless of their condition. Items in poor shape can be recycled into rags for industry or can be shredded to make cushion fillings, carpet underlay and other forms of insulation. A large number of the world's population uses second hand clothes distributed by charitable organizations and the fabric from curtains and bed linens can be remade into apparel and accessories.

Consider donating textiles to church rummage sales or including them in your family garage sales. Think about the fun you could have by hosting clothing and textile swap parties with your friends -the giggles and comraderie alone would be worth it, while an old blouse or skirt no longer enjoyed by one of your buddies could look scintillating on someone else or make the perfect lining for a newly created purse, bag for shopping or other creative bent. Re-use older but still sturdy fabrics in quilts and household accessories such as runners, toss cushions, curtain tiebacks, or table coverings.

Encourage your children to take pride in their clothing and teach them to sew on a button or do minor repairs for themselves. Retro is " in" these days and perusing the aisles of your local thrift shop can unearth unknown treasures and camp clothing styles. The remaking or refashioning of clothing can be rewarding and fun and by using your imagination, you can create accessories and clothing from older style acquisitions which can result in a unique and individual wardrobe. You could be a trendsetter!

In conclusion, please consider the following:
Recycling textiles saves energy
Recycling textiles saves water
Recycling textiles saves natural resources
Recycling textiles reduces landfills
Recycling textiles can affect climate change

Surf the internet to find out more in depth about textile recycling and the positive affect it can have on our environment both locally and world wide.

Please click on the Blog Action Day badge in my side bar for more information and to connect to a myriad of other interesting and informative blogs taking action and providing information on the importance of climate change.


Virginia A. Spiegel said...

Great post, Leonie! Thanks for the reminder. V.

Darlene said...

Fabulous info. If it were incorporated into retail everyone would benefit. SewSheSaid.