Posts Tagged ‘textile waste’

My name is Melissa, and like so many Americans, I am a clotheshorse.  With masstige apparel, quick response manufacturing, and targeted ads that sing the praises of planned obsolescence attacking consumers from all angles, it’s easy to fall into the seductive trap of modern fashion consumption.  Nearly all of us are guilty of buying more than we need and wasting what we have long before it loses its utility, and with Americans creating upwards of 11 million tons of textile waste per year1, less than 20% of which is successfully recycled2, our bad shopping habit is clearly having an impact on more than just our wallets.  For this, and many other reasons, I have made the decision not to shop for a full six months, in an effort to understand what it is about our culture that spurs us to shop until we drop, destroying the environment and perpetuating human rights issues for the sake of instant gratification.

A lovely cotton gown I fashioned out of a vintage sheet. See, kids? Sustainability CAN be fun!

When I say “no shopping”, what I mean is no contribution to the traditional retail economy.  No new clothing stores, no online shopping, no shoes, bags, or accessories.  No used clothing stores, unless I am trading in old clothes for credit towards other used ones.  No independent boutiques or eco-brands (an issue I’ll likely discuss in depth in the near future) unless the textiles themselves are post-consumer recycled, and even then, not unless utility necessitates them.  No thrift stores, street vendors, or even sewing of my own clothes unless they come from resources I already possess or come to possess through the recycling of post-consumer textile “waste”.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will be using my own wardrobe, as well as garments borrowed from stores to shoot a final project for a fashion styling class I am taking this semester.  For the sake of my grade, it may become necessary to buy clothes, shoes, or accessories in order to complete each look, but anything bought will be returned in the same condition I bought it in, tags in tact and shoes taped, released back into the retail wilderness like some kind of cute woodland creature, nursed back to health after some non-fatal accident.

Along the way, I hope to document my observations and reactions to the next six months, from the annoying highs of self righteousness (this is, after all, San Francisco), to the lows of inevitably jonsing for a fast fashion fix.  This blog will serve as a space to drop knowledge (holla back if you love statistics!), share resources (from swap meets to D.I.Y. craft porn), and, hopefully, raise awareness of alternatives to the wasteful industry that so many of us have become complicit  to.

1 The American Textile Recycling Service
2 For all you fact whores, ATRS estimated 1.9 million tons recycled (out of a total of 11.9 million pounds of waste) as of 2006 at a rate of 15.67%. The Environmental Protection Agency has a page on their website from last fall dedicated to textile waste recycling with slightly more optimistic numbers, but they also reference a fact sheet from the Council for Textile Recycling, which cites figures from the late nineties, which doesn’t inspire confidence…

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