My city has a pretty amazing recycling program, accepting just about anything for recycling…compost, styrofoam, glass, plastic bags; you name it…except textiles.
Now I know you all share the secret shame of home sewists: producing extraordinary amounts of little scraps of fabric that can’t be used for much of anything except landfill.
Why this is a problem is summed up well by Craig and Marc Kielburger in their article “We Shouldn’t Be Filling Up Our Landfills With Clothing”:
In North America, consumers are buying — and getting rid of — five times as much clothing as we did 25 years ago, reports Elizabeth Cline in her book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Portfolio, 2013). A staggering 85 per cent of our collective apparel ends up in a landfill — that’s over 10.5 million tons of clothing, according to the popular second-hand store Value Village. In a single year, Canada produces enough textile waste — clothing and other goods like upholstery — to create a mountain three times the size of Toronto’s Rogers Centre stadium.
It’s easy to donate used clothing for reuse (although even the Goodwills and Salvation Armies and Value Villages of the world are now having a very hard time even keeping up with all of the clothing donations being sent their way), but what about those offcuts from sewing? I spent a lot of time researching options near me for recycling fabric but short of driving them to a depot over a hundred kilometres away, there were few. Between fabric scraps, old worn-out clothing, and bed sheets that have reached the end of their life, I have two garbage bags full of textiles waiting in the basement for a recycling option.
Good news! Clothing retailer H&M will take them off your hands and recycle them. And since there seems to be an H&M within a 2 block radius of every man, woman and child in the western world, hopefully that means this is an option for you, dear reader.
They offer a coupon for $5 off your next purchase of $30 or more for each bag you bring in, just in case you need more incentive than simply feeling imperious for having saved your scraps from going to landfill.
Funny story: I brought a bag of scraps and worn out clothes to an H&M a few months ago, and when I put it into the collection bin (which was much like a fast-food restaurant trash bin with a push-door at the top front), the whole bin fell apart with a giant clatter. First the sides fell open, hitting the floor with a deafening slap, and then the rest came crashing down while I stood there burning bright red for having attracted the attention of every single person in the store. Then a gum-chewing teenage employee comes up to me and says “next time, just give it to someone at the cash!” Thanks, smart ass. Next time, empty your fucking bin out before it bursts at the seams! lol
Anyway, hopefully your experience recycling your fabric scraps will be a little less traumatic than mine was. 😉
Do you have options near you for recycling fabric scraps and clothes that are too far gone for reusing?