Millions of pounds of textiles are tossed into landfills across the United States each year.
In our "disposable" society, almost-new clothes are thrown into the garbage without a second glance. USAgain provides people with a convenient option to part with their reusable textiles, instead of letting them fill up valuable space on our Earth.
By re-wearing and reusing clothes we save precious natural resources, reduce pollution and prevent the emission of climate changing greenhouse gases. The raw material production and manufacturing of new clothes is a resource and energy intensive process. So every item of clothing saved is a big benefit for the planet.
The raw material production and manufacturing of new clothes is a resource and energy intensive process. Every item of clothing saved represents a big benefit for the planet. Since 1980, textile consumption in the U.S. has increased five-fold. This means that every man, woman and child now buys more than 81 pounds of textiles every year. This includes 66 pounds of clothes, footwear, towels, sheets and pillowcases, of which about 10 pounds will be reused or recycled, leaving 56 pounds to be thrown in the trash.
Curbing Water Pollution
It takes 1,300 gallons of water to grow the cotton to produce just one T-shirt. Conventionally grown cotton, one of the most popular clothing fibers, is also one of the most water- and pesticide-dependent crops. According to the World Bank, 17-20% of industrial water pollution is due to textile dyeing and treatment. Up to 72 chemicals found in polluted water come directly from the textile dyeing process. Thirty of these cannot be removed or completely extracted. At an increasing rate, Earth's water supplies are threatened by industrial pollutants emitted from the textile industry, though, the greatest cause for concern lies in China and India, where most of the textiles, including those consumed in the US, are manufactured.
Every pound of clothing that is re-worn and replaces the manufacturing of new clothing saves seven pounds of greenhouse gases. Compared with many of the materials that are commonly collected for reuse and recycling, the benefits are far greater with clothing. The boilers, ovens and storage tanks used in the textile-manufacturing process can emit dust, aerosols, and harmful fumes and gases. Carbon, Carbon dioxide, Carbon monoxide, Sulfur and Chlorine, produced in the textile-manufacturing process, can lead to long-term vision and respiratory problems, the blocking of sunlight, fog persistence and even death. The health effects are similar to those exhibited in long-time cigarette smokers. Young children and elderly people are more susceptible to the effects of air pollution. Long-term health effects include heart disease, nerve damage and even lung cancer.
Solid Waste Pollution
Residual waste from the textile manufacturing process includes yarn, fabrics and packaging materials; storage containers, chemical drums and cardboard packaging or materials used in the dyeing and knitting process. These materials are often left in ever-expanding landfills or found littered and inappropriately trashed or recycled. Simple methods to increase industrial efficiency are often enough to curb the solid waste pollution problem exhibited in the textile industry. However, it's a slow and sometimes difficult process, especially in developing economies where textile industries are more prevalent.
To learn more about how products affect the environment, and the concept of the product lifecycle, check out this great video called The Story of Stuff.
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