8 Easy Ideas to Reduce Your Textile Waste

Conscious Consumption, Rags To Riches Textile Upcycling Summit, Textile Alchemy

By Crispina ffrench

Did you ever wonder where passions find their spark?  What brought you to recycle textiles?

Upcycling used clothing and manufacturers’ textile scraps started for me as a frugal art school student in Boston back in the 1980s.  It was up to me to pay my way so you can imagine the bliss when I stumbled across a making process that was affordable with built-in adventures/treasure and hunts.

Sourcing material as an entrepreneur taught be a ton about the clothing thrift stream.  The fact that there is a huge volume of used clothing that gets tossed - right into the landfill.  Only 15% of used clothing in our culture here in the USA gets donated and of that a substantial share is unsaleable.  I learned that there are garment graders who buy and sell in large volume to and from the thrift stream.  These businesses are able to supply specific garments to upcycling enterprises, the more specified the sort, the more expensive the material.  

Bottom line is that we need to change our textile consumption behavior. 

The good news is that there is a growing number of ways we can improve our consumption habits.  People are beginning to realize that it is not just fine to throw away useful resources like clothing.  Additionally ongoing research is exposing the cause and effect of micro-plastics from our synthetic fiber clothing wreaking havoc in our oceans and bodies.

Friends, we can do better.  

Each one of us has an intimate relationship with fabrics, from the day we are born, until we take our last breath, we are wrapped in textiles. It is important to choose the right ones, choose the textiles that have the smallest environmental footprint, for our health and the health of our planet (which are actually one and the same)

Here are a few new habits to adopt that are making significant changes:

  1. Think of your wardrobe as a life-long investment.
  2. Buy secondhand - the secondhand clothing market is on track to surpass fast fashion in sales volume by 2025 and be twice the size of fast fashion by 2030.  
  3. Attend or host a clothing swap - this is a fun no cost way to switch up your wardrobe without environmental impact.
  4. Buy quality - buying durable, ethically made clothing is certainly an investment with an up-front cost many times more than the fast fashion alternative.  
    • Spending on high quality, durable clothing takes consideration and planning - a great habit to curb excessive consumption
    • Well made durable clothing has a high resale value.
    • Companies that make quality ethically produced durable clothing pay fairly and treated employees well.  Fast fashion brands do not.
    • Well made, ethically produced clothing brands provide clothing that item is designed to be cared for and will last for years. The fast fashion alternative is designed to be worn 3 or 4 times.  It is poorly constructed with lackluster skill, fabric quality, and questionable labor practices - which is the reason textile landfills are overflowing.
  5. Support textile upcycling entrepreneurs who are remaking clothing and offering 1:1 handmade pieces to enhance your wardrobe.
  6. When feeling the need to purchase something brand new (for me that means socks, bras, undies, and running tights) be sure you are supporting a business that aligns with your values.

Ayesha Barenblat and her team of changemakers at ReMake.world have compiled a comprehensive annual Fashion Accountability Report to help you know who to support when buying new clothing.  

You can hear more from Ayesha, and the ReMake mission to make fashion a force for good at Rags to Riches Textile Upcycling Summit….  April 20-22, 2022.  Save $100 are get an early-bird tickets on sale til Tuesday (March 15th, 2022) at midnight EST.

Learn more about our scholarship program in the coming days - right here on Rag.

Scroll down and leave a comment - What is your favorite piece of upcycled clothing and how long have you had it?  


Rags to Riches

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Learn more about supporting textile upcycling with a collaborative fundraiser, Stitch-a-Long 3.0