Fashion business after SALE insanity

recycle textiles clothing pile

As it turns out private people are not the only ones forgetting to recycle... I was quite furious this morning to read from the news that Finnish clothing shops trow unsold stocks of clothes to landfills. Unfortunately Finland is propably not even the only country doing this. According to a representative of Association of Fashion Retailers in Finland interviewd for the story, donating unsold stock to charities is bad for business and company image and that´s why they choose to destroy them. It is embarrassing for the shops to have consumers know how much of the goods bought are in fact left unsold (bad buying). Consumers might also be offended if they find something the have bought full price being sold at charity shops cheaper.. "Embarrassing... Offended..." WTF??!!!!!

Of course it is impossible to sell everything during the season, and companies can in fact choose the way to discard their property as they see fit. But landfills are not the answer as it is a terrible waste of all the recources, materials and energy that has been used to make the garments in the first place! If donating the goods to charity does not seem like a good idea for the shops (and I honestly de not see how it could hurt them), there are plenty of other ways to recycle unsold stock. Outlet stores, recycle them as energywaste or re-selling them to textile recycle companies, like Dafecor in Finland, just to name a few.

 recycle textiles landfill

This amount of waste is not peanuts we´re talking about. For example according to "Textile waste makes up approximately 8% of the total waste in California. While the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 97% of post-consumer textile waste is recyclable, unlike paper, plastic, and aluminum waste recycling, most communities do not have systems in place to address the fabric component of the waste stream."

And how is this possible that companies are not required to recycle their stock more responsibly? Or that dumping new and unused goods to landfills is even legal? I thought there would have been at least a penalty fee for doing so. Or there should be so companies would not consider dumping as an option so easily! When is EU going to come up with a certificate for companies that do recycle responsibly?! Consumers could use that as reference when they think of places to spend their money in.

recycle textiles thrift pickup

Did you know this about recycling textiles:

1. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that about 97% of post-consumer textile waste is recyclable.
2. By simply donating all of your used textiles to participating thrift stores, you can help to significantly reduce the burden on our landfills.
3. Over 70% of the world's population uses secondhand clothes, so your old clothes can be used to help people in need.
4. By recycling textiles you benefit your local community by creating local jobs that generate local tax revenue.
5. Textile recycling companies work closely with charitable institutions to find new homes and uses for old clothing and fabric items, thus reducing the operating costs for thrift stores and freeing up funding to house, feed, and train the less fortunate.
6. Textile recycling requires less energy than any other type of recycling.
7. Textile recycling does not create any new hazardous waste or harmful by-products.
8. Unwearable textiles can be reused as rags by paint stores, machine shops, auto shops, government, business and industry.
9. Unwearable textiles can be converted for industrial uses such as noise reduction or upholstery.
10. Each new home that is built uses 100 pounds of rags - isn't it preferable that these be locally generated recycled material that was saved from a landfill?

I wonder how many consumers would take their money somewhere else if a list would be published of companies that do this kind of dumping? I sure as hell would. Sometimes fashion business is just so f****d up.

To read more about textiles and recycling, check out these sites and organizations:
Tekstiilit ja ympäristö (in Finnish)
Kuluttajaviraston tekstiilien kierrätys opas (in Finnish)
Council for Textile Recycling
Textile Recycling Association TRA in UK

Photos from Needled, and Planet Green.

Outi Les Pyy

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  1. Great point! If I sort out my closet, I always give my old clothes to a family friend of mine who travels to the Philipines regularly, and donates my things to the needy!

    Nowadays peole just see throwing away as a more comfortable, easy option, it's sad!

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