Recycling has become one of the buzz words of the ‘noughties’ and domestically UK councils have asked their residents to play their part.
Most local authorities and many hospices, charities and even private businesses have gone to great lengths to make sure their local area is well catered for when it comes to recycling with the placement of recycling banks in prominent locations, the implementation of collection schemes, the increasing number of charity shops and the good old-fashioned jumble sale.
One of the most popular types of recycling is the reuse or resale of textiles, the benefits of which to the economy and environment are huge.
Did you know that the practice of clothes recycling goes back to 1813 when a Yorkshire businessman by the name of Benjamin Law invented the activity known as shoddy. This was a process, practised on an industrial scale where old clothes were ground down to a fibrous state that allowed them to be respun into yarn and ultimately into new clothes.
This industry was centred in the West Riding area of Yorkshire and was so important that in the 1860’s the town of Batley was turning over 7,000 tonnes of shoddy a year.
Although there are a number of shoddy businesses still active today, the clothes recycling industry now concentrates on the resale of clothes through charity shops or the redistribution of garments in third world countries.
More Can be Done
With such a long history in the UK for textile recycling it is sad to note that there is still scope to do much more.
It is estimated that we discard one million tonnes of clothing each year with the majority being household refuse. Of this vast amount 50 per cent could be reused, at present we are only recycling 25 per cent.
The Benefits to Economy and Environment of Clothes Recycling
- The strain on land fill sites is greatly reduced as synthetic garments will not decompose.
- Woollen items do decompose but produce gasses that contribute to global warming.
- Pressure on source materials is reduced.
- Fewer imports from other parts of the world improve our economy.
- The reduction of transportation from abroad reduces pollution.
How Can I Help with Clothes Recycling?
- Make use of your local clothes bank.
- Contact your local authorities if you do not have a local bank and ask why.
- If you have no local bank ask if the local authority run a collection scheme or take your clothes to a local charity shop.
- Make use of any local jumble sales or collections.
- Consider buying second-hand clothes, you could snap up a bargain and help a local charity.
- Seek out items that use recycled content, although these are not always advertised.
As the jingle goes “Every Little Helps.”
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