Byron College Youth Address Textile Waste

Through the process of our global perspectives lessons we were introduced to the staggering problem of textile waste.

We first met the culprit in a group walk where we were asked to notice blatant mishaps and problems throughout the community. As a class we were able to identify the significant problem of litter in our streets. Once we observed and understood the magnitude of the bigger picture, we were able to delve deeper and locate a significant problem hidden from the lights of the mainstream media; textile waste. Textile waste is a material that is deemed unusable for its original purpose by the owner. Textile waste can include fashion and textile industry waste, created during fibre, textile and clothing production, and consumer waste, created during consumer use and disposal. At first glance, we were completely oblivious to the glaring issue however, upon further investigation we were at once taken aback by the substantial problem. Essentially, the striking problem of textile waste is woven together by two different complications; the wasteful process of creation and the vast amounts of fabric being wasted.

The hidden process of the shirt you are wearing right now creates immense amounts of pollution. Firstly, the sheer amounts of greenhouse gases emitted is more than the aviation and shipping industries combined. To put that into perspective, if the aviation industry was considered a country, it would rank in the top 10 emitters, not taking into account the deleterious shipping industry. Additionally, the water pollution is unheard of with rivers in China changing colour due to the use of dye in clothes. Moreover, due to the blooming of such industries, organisations are not reluctant to expand with estimates believing that the fashion industry will in the future demand 35% more land and 50% more water. This obscene increase is due to the rapidly growing rise in consumption, with consumers taking in almost 62 million tonnes of clothes in 2015. Furthermore, estimates lead us to believe that this will almost double by 2030 with it increasing to approximately 102 million tonnes. This is significant to textile waste as with the amount of devastation this procedure creates major amounts are tossed away with no second thought, with more than 900,000 tonnes of fabric being thrown away in U.S alone, which is not the biggest manufacturer in the world.

However, in an effort to combat this problem we have decided to begin recycling and re-using products in an environmentally friendly manner. We have been able to collect large amounts of unneeded fabric. And with this we split into groups and started little passion projects, such as making a flag, classroom cushions and reusable grocery bags, purely using the waste we have gathered. We do this with the aim of understanding and experiencing the incredible amounts of waste being created as you read this.

In conclusion we as a class were able to learn about the concealed issue of textile waste and experience it in depth with our own eyes.