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6 Ways To Combat The World's Garment Waste Problem

Textiles

Image via Flickr

Currently on the Indo crew's radar: garment waste and textiles. We wanted to share with you some of the problems that have been on our minds lately and the discoveries we have made, from innovative technology to alternative materials to inspiring brands. We hope this encourages you to read up on the waste challenges (and solutions!) and join in on the convo. We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below!

6 Ways To Combat the World's Garment Waste Problem

1. Pay attention to where your clothing donations are going.

"When I was a little girl I used to give the clothes I wouldn’t wear anymore to my younger cousins. As an adult I had to look for something else to do with my used clothing, and it seemed like a good idea to donate my clothes to Africa. I did this through my church and felt really good about it... until I found out that donations like mine flooded countries like Kenya and destroyed the local textile industry in Uganda, Nigeria, and Haiti. Now I try to make sure the clothes I donate reach people locally. It doesn't solve the global waste problem, but it's a reminder that I need to be more careful with my consumption habits because dumping clothes into the charity bin is not as good of a solution as I thought." ~Theresa

2. Get creative & use discarded fabric to make new things.

"I think it’s rad when people use old clothing instead of new fabric to make clothing, or select pieces of old clothing to use as highlights on new clothing. Jeff 'Yoki' Yokoyama of Yokishop is one of my heroes in the streetwear scene, and I’m inspired by the way he takes old beach towels and makes them into hoodies and bucket hats (and other covetable pieces). You can see his handiwork in this collaboration with Levi's. Speaking of hats, I recently met the people behind the brand Topiku. They repurpose old plastic buckets into hat bills and use batik textile scraps to decorate the brims. Really good stuff." ~Kai

Topiku hats with repurposed materials

Image via Topiku

3. Promote resourcefulness over consumerism.

"My great-aunt, who I visited in central Java recently, was so excited to tell me about a box of fabric scraps she received from her sister. She washed the pieces and sewed them into blankets, pillowcases, nightgowns, and little coin purses. 'Here, take a purse!' she said. Why is it that these days most of us find more joy in buying things rather than creating things with our own hands? Have you heard about this trend among teens where they go on fast-fashion shopping sprees and run home to film videos where they unveil their spoils to the world one by one? Yep, it's really a thing and it's called a “haul” video (here’s the evidence). How did we let this happen? Let's go back to teaching kids about resourcefulness, about creating new from old, and instilling in them the idea that creativity knows no boundaries." ~Mutia

Textile scraps

Image via Flickr

4. Support new technology developed for circular economies.

"I’ve been getting to know this company EVRNU - they transform discarded garments into fibers to provide a solution for textile waste. Textile waste is a huge problem because garments often can't be reused due to dyes and chemicals. Evrnu’s technology strips the dyes and contaminants from cotton textile garments, pulps the cotton (breaking it down to basic fiber molecules), and then recombines it to make pristine fiber for premium textiles. Waste becomes a “crop” for new products and… bam! Circular economy. If you're interested, Newsweek mentions them in this article." ~Kyle

Evrnu's technology closes the loop

 

Image via Evrnu

5. Consider using or buying alternative materials.

"I'm really excited about Piñatex, which is pineapple leather made by Ananas Anam. I never knew you could make sustainable natural textiles from such materials! Their textiles are developed using pineapple leaf fibres that are the byproduct of pineapple harvest, so no extra land, water or fertilizers are needed for production. If you are vegan or just looking for leather alternatives, this material is strong, flexible and it's supposedly also fire resistant. Read this article in Wired UK about how Ananas Anam turns pineapples into shoes, handbags, car upholsetery, and more." ~Marine

Pinatex bags

Image via Smith Matthias

6. Select materials produced with sustainable methods.

"It feels nice to slip on an organic cotton tee, and although I sometimes find it to be more expensive, the quality extends beyond the cozy yarn and fibers. Growing conventional cotton is chemical-intensive while organic cotton calls for quality farming. Companies you and I have purchased from for years are starting to realize this. Timberland, American Apparel, Patagonia, even garment suppliers like Groceries in Los Angeles are reaching out to farmers to kickstart 100% organic lines. When farmers practice more viable processes, it allows for sustainable production. This means that our soils are kept healthy, they hold water better, and are more adept to deal with drought conditions, which is huge for us out here in California. If you are going to buy new fabrics or garments, I suggest buying less and buying organic." ~Killian

Organic cotton

Image via Flickr

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