Every year in the United States, over 10 million tons of textiles are manufactured and account for 4% of all the waste entering landfills. The word textile is a board term and encompasses everything from the garments we wear and the sheets on our beds to the carpets in our living rooms and the cushions on our chairs. This wide class of manufactured goods can be broken down into two general categories, materials like carpets and mattresses that have a relatively long life span and those like garments and bedding which are often views as seasonal or disposable textiles.
The entire concept of a “disposable” item is itself deceitful. Even if an item (like a cotton t-shirt) is 100% bio-degradable, sending the item to a landfill is wasting all the resources that went into its production. No manufacturing plant is operated without large amounts of electricity, water, and human effort. This is not to mention the coal, oil, water, electricity, etc that was spent obtaining the raw materials for use in the plant’s production (never mind the raw materials themselves). Unfortunately, the modern fashion industry has built empires around an ever revolving door of so call “disposable fashion.” The “must have” item from last fall’s runway is suddenly hideous in the light of spring and in its place is another garment with an equally limited lifespan.
(AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
If the world of fashionstas and fashionistos can’t be persuaded to the side of slow fashion, we must at the very least preach and promote the accessibility of textile recycling. The world of textile recycling is a double sided coin that shines as brightly on one side as it does the other. Not only does it aid the environment, but it also aids our fellow man.
The simplest and most accessible way to recycle unused textiles is through donations to companies like Goodwill and The Salvation Army. Of the 2.5 billion pounds of textiles recycled each year in the United States, 50% are recycled through charitable organizations that sort, donate, and/or resell otherwise unwanted items. Besides providing clothing to needy individuals, these companies frequently sponsor programs that offer education and/or employment to otherwise unemployable segments of the population. Even garments and linens that are stained or torn can be donated to such charities because a portion of their income is obtained by selling unusable textile goods to recycling centers.
At the textile recycling center, otherwise unwanted textile goods are cut up and/or broken down to create new products for the consumer market. Cotton may be cut into rags for polishing and cleaning purposes or broken down into fiber to create high quality paper goods. Wool may be shredded to create insulation or upholstery stuffing. Findings such as buttons and zippers are removed and set aside for reuse in new garments. Unusable natural materials eventually find their way to a compost pile, leaving as little as 5% total waste product.
This image is property of The Council for Textile Recycling.
It’s time to think about summer! I love to use vintage sheet fabric, and here’s a great way! Using two sheets and two 5-packs of boys tank-top undershirts I came out with ten super-cute nighties for under $20. Here’s how I made them:
cut the undershirts to the length you’d like (they are ordinarily quite long!)
make a pattern (similar to mine if you want them super-twirly) and cut out the skirt pieces
stitch the skirt pieces together and then to the tank top (stretch the tank top as you go and it’ll gather the skirt itself)
cut out a cute picture from the sheet and quickly machine-applique it onto the tank top (if you want it cutesy!)
. . .and wear!
These are so easy, inexpensive, and enjoyable to wear!
Here’s my pattern/diagram if you’re so inclined to try it yourself!
SO the measurement at the top is about 1/4 of your waist measurement, plus a little bit for comfort. The A measurement equals the B measurement to keep the length uniform. Cut it out on the fold, and make two per nightie.
🙂 Give it a try!
Sheila (my blog: troutwife)
There is something amazingly fun and alluring about a women in men’s wear. Not all of us can pull it off head to toe like the lovely Diane Keaton, but any girl with sass can wear a few pieces here or there. Conveniently enough, thrift stores seem to have a plethora of high quality, like new garments for men. No matter how I try, I just can’t seem to resist buying some of these garments for myself.
To quickly and simply incorporate men’s wear into your wardrobe, consider putting a small twist on the garments original purpose.
- ties look great worn scarf style…try two or three at a time
- men’s dress shirts in big/tall sizes make great dresses…style with a wide belt and ankle boots
- cut off a pair of suit pants and fold up into geeky, cute shorts…my favorite shorts are Goeffrey Beene cutoffs
For a one-of-a-kind addition to any wardrobe, men’s wear makes a great jumping off point. Upcycling is all the rage now and it is way more fun than waiting in line to get into a fitting room. I’ve made some fun outfits for myself and my children using cast off men’s wear, but I haven’t even imagined anything as cute as the designs offered by Caroline Hobbs at her etsy boutique The Painted Oyster. Despite the fact that I love upcycling my own creations, I just cannot convince myself that I don’t need one of these little numbers.
Shirt Dresses by Caroline at The Painted Oyster