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How Clothes End up in Landfill? Is it Harmful?


The widespread practice of most people particularly in the Western world is to donate old clothes to charity. Torn and damaged clothing are often thrown in trash bags. That is when textile pollution begins. In fact, garments have become the second biggest source of toxic waste globally. Disposed clothes end up in dump sites resulting in contaminants as well as greenhouse emissions all around us. As responsible consumers, we can help minimize the effects on use and wastage of textile by supporting environmental-conscious companies and organizations.

Textile Waste

According to figures provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 10 million (tons) of used clothing was brought to landfills and only 2.63 million (tons) were recycled. Another 3.14 million were burned for energy recovery. The habit of throwing away discarded and tattered clothes is a pointless environmental burden.

What many people do not know is that throwing away these old clothes does not mean it’s the end of the world for textile waste. Fabrics take longer to crumble compared to other items. Most of these materials are manufactured with chemicals and dyes capable of contaminating water and soil. Here are other detrimental results:

First, apparel in the dumping ground take a lot of useful space.

Second, it discharges dangerous greenhouse gases as these materials rot.

Third, massive demand for new clothes produces environmental issues like large quantity of water as well as insect killers to grow materials for new fabrics.

Fourth, there is additional pollution given out by textile plants during the manufacturing stage.

Synthetic fibers such as nylon, rayon, acrylic, and polyester are also harmful. These materials are not good for the health, skin and unsafe to ecology. Said fibers are said to cause chronic ailments such as cancers and acute respiratory infections. Synthetics specifically polyester (Lycra and Dacron) are difficult to recycle and not biodegradable. The manufacturing process results in dispersal of toxins in water as well as releases contaminants in the air.

Making a Change – Recycling

We can do something. Even a small voice can make a difference. We can contribute in preventing textile pollution. Recycling is the best possible way. More than 90 percent of frayed dresses and other garments can be reprocessed into wadding for pillows, paper bills, and sports ground. Fibers from textile are also ideal for linings of jewelry boxes and carpet fillings. Furthermore, more than 70% of people globally buy and wear used clothes from thrift shops.

Henceforth, why not just recycle clothing to eliminate these destructive effects? Besides, the prohibition of unwanted textile on garbage lots will generate more employment opportunities; produce good effects on our ecosystems; save taxpayers’ money; and, ensure that reusable objects are not thrown to rubbish piles. The key is to change our way of thinking that re cycling does not cover cans, bottles, and paper alone but apparel as well.