Credential Clothing: The Future of Recycling, by EcoGoodz
Claudia Marsales has such zeal for recycling that she’s been nicknamed the “Queen of the Heap”. And this queen has set her sights on textile recycling. “For 30 years, we have been recycling newspapers. Textiles [have] just been off everybody’s radar,” she said. But the status quo is rapidly changing. Government agencies, non profits and charity organizations, and individual citizens such as Marsales are campaigning to raise awareness and increase convenience in an effort to facilitate textile recycling. Collection bins are becoming more and more plentiful in parking lots and on street corners. Municipalities are beginning to offer curbside pickup or drop off locations. Thrift stores and charities
are sending trucks to outlying areas, offering mobile collection services. All of these efforts seek to entice people to donate, donate, donate.
Donations make a tremendous difference to those who need help. Top quality clothing sells quickly in a resale environment, generating cash for charity organizations. Bill May, a properties and facilities manager for the Salvation Army in Oakville, Ontario stated that “a Tommy Hilfiger shirt might feed a family of four.”
And yet, CBC recently reported that “85% of discarded textiles end up in a landfill site, meaning that just 15% are recycled or reused.” With increased awareness and new programs in place, that number should increase, enabling charity organizations to increase funding for their programs.
Of course not all of the collected clothing will be suitable for resale (sale in a thrift store), but all of it is reusable and/or recycleable. Mismatched socks, clothing that is torn, stained, or shows excessive wear, can be shredded and used as upholstery stuffing, insulation, carpet padding, and much more. Some fibers can be re-woven into new fabric.
Some donated clothing is left in its original bags and resold in large bales. The picture above shows such clothing, called credential clothing. Credential clothing is sold overseas.
Whether it’s in your own community or overseas, used clothing will benefit others. Textiles are not trash and should never be discarded with trash. Donate or recycle all used clothing. Marsales’ parting advice for textile recycling is to “take it to the [recycling bins]. Anywhere but the landfill.”