How Many Pounds of Textiles Are Trashed Every Year? [Infographic]

February 3, 2014 |  by  |  Environmental
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Growing up in this day and age, I’ve spent most of my clothes shopping time in used and vintage shops. Not only do I find older clothes to be more alluring to me than the clothes made today but also it’s a heck of a lot cheaper. Not only that, but from this infographic I’ve learned that I’m actually saving the planet (just a little bit) by doing this. It is under this particular viewpoint that I’m very sad to say that America has a serious problem of trashing textiles.

According to the EPA almost 13.1 million tons of textiles are thrown away every year. Only 15% of which (roughly 2 million tons) are recovered for reuse or recycling. It’s gotten so bad that it’s estimated that the average American throws away 65 pounds of textiles every year and that nearly 48% of this is perfectly reusable. So why’s this so bad? Well, manufacturing textiles uses a LOT of water. The average T-shirt alone uses 700 gallons of water to manufacture. Not only that, but according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, textiles are the 5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions in the United States after primary metals, nonmetallic mineral products, petroleum and chemicals. Just one pound of textiles can produce as much as 7 pounds of CO2 emissions into our atmosphere.

So next time you have some old clothes, towels, sheets or fabric to get rid of, look up drop-off locations for recycling textiles or donate it to your local thrift shop so that some weirdo like me might actually still want to wear it.

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