In the past century, the world has undergone tremendous changes, and one of the most notable transformations has been in the area of clothing recycling. Recycling clothes, which once was considered an unimportant and irrelevant matter, has now become a significant issue due to the increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability and environmental protection.
In the early 1900s, clothing recycling was not a widely practiced activity. The average person purchased clothes that were built to last, and any old clothes were either passed down to younger family members or repurposed into rags or cleaning materials. However, the invention of synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon in the 1930s and 1940s made clothes cheaper to produce, and their easy disposability led to an increase in waste.
The 1960s saw the beginning of the modern environmental movement, and with it, increased awareness of the need to reduce waste and preserve resources. This led to a resurgence in the idea of recycling, and organizations like Goodwill and the Salvation Army began to expand their clothing donation programs. In the 1970s, the first “recycling” stores were opened in the United States, where people could donate their old clothing and purchase second-hand clothes.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the textile recycling industry began to grow, and the first textile recycling machines were developed. These machines could sort through large quantities of used clothing, separating them into different categories based on material and quality. The clothes were then shredded, and the fibers were used to create new textiles, insulation, and even carpets.
In the early 2000s, the rise of online marketplaces such as eBay and Craigslist made it easier for people to sell their old clothing online, rather than throwing them away. The emergence of social media platforms like Instagram also played a role in promoting sustainable fashion, with influencers sharing tips on how to repurpose old clothes and encouraging people to buy second-hand clothing.
Today, clothing recycling has become a global industry. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the fashion industry produces over 92 million tons of waste every year, with less than 1% of it being recycled. However, there are now many initiatives and organizations working to improve this. Major clothing retailers such as H&M, Zara, and Levi’s have launched recycling programs where customers can bring in their old clothes and receive a discount on new purchases. Many cities and towns also have textile recycling programs, where people can bring their used clothing to be sorted and recycled.
In addition to recycling, there has also been a significant rise in upcycling, where old clothes are repurposed into new and fashionable items. Upcycling can range from simply adding embellishments or patches to a piece of clothing to completely transforming it into something entirely new. This has become a popular trend among DIY enthusiasts and sustainable fashion advocates, with many small businesses and independent designers specializing in upcycled clothing.
We, here at Diversity Consignment, pride ourselves in offering a unique textile recycling experience. One in which clothing passes directly from a consignors closet to a new and happy home. I believe that consignment has the potential to be the most sustainable way of recycling within the textile industry, applying a zero sum waste approach.
We also offer a platform for up cycling artists and creators to showcase some of their creations while making a profit. Come by and check out some of the unique things we have for sale!
-Ian Drake, Diversity Consignment