Organizations strive to recycle clothing – Oxford Observer


The next time you’re looking for a great outfit, turn to your closet before heading to your favorite retail store, says Rebecca Robinson, a visiting assistant professor at the University of Miami in the fashion department.

Fast fashion, a process that allows a retailer to produce a lot of clothes very frequently, speeding up the production, retailing and consumption of clothes, is wreaking economic and environmental havoc in developing countries like Ghana, according to a October report on International public radio.

“It’s really about buying less,” said Robinson. “Fast fashion is all about volume and valuing what you really need.”

Efforts to mitigate the negative effects of the fast-paced fashion industry have recently sprung up around Oxford.

Shana Rosenberg started Put on Oxford, a donation group with an initiative to educate and reduce textile waste in the community.

“It always bothered me to see discarded fabrics,” Rosenberg said. “I started doing research a few years ago and things came together to start the band this year.”

When Americans and other Western countries are done with clothes, they are usually “donated” or exported to developing countries for resale, according to the article. In Ghana, residents will buy used clothing in large batches, select usable items and resell them in markets.

However, due to the nature of fast fashion, the amount of clothing sent does more harm than good. Vendors are expected to sell more coins for less money, tapping into the primary source of income for many families and individuals. Countries are then also responsible for disposing of excess clothing. This is forcing overcrowded landfills to close and people to dispose of clothes illegally or on beaches where they end up in the ocean, according to the PRI report.

Every month, Thread Up Oxford collects an average of 1,000 pounds of clothing. More than 12 months would be enough to give someone a new outfit for every working day of the year. Photo provided by Thread Up Oxford

Since its debut earlier this year, Thread Up Oxford has prevented around 1,000 pounds of textiles from going to landfill or being sent overseas each month, Rosenberg said.

According to Dropmint laundry service, an online shopping next day laundry service in San Diego, the average outfit weighs between one and a half and three pounds. This means that Oxford residents get rid of around 300 outfits each month for Thread-Up Oxford. That’s enough clothes to wear a different outfit every day of the week for over a year.

This does not begin to account for clothing sent to other donation centers, landfills and overseas.

“We have become like a mini clothing closet for the community,” said Rosenberg. “When we receive clothing donations, we make sure they are of high quality to donate to places like the Talawanda School District, the Family Resource Center and directly through community members. ”

Other textiles like old towels and sheets are sent to veterinary and veterinary clinics. While the sewing materials are given to community members for personal use or for later distribution.

Almost all textiles donated to Thread Up Oxford are used, but around 10% are deemed unusable and sent to Goodwill for recycling, Rosenberg said.

According to Goodwill website, donated textiles that do not sell in the store are sent to factory outlets where the clothes are sold by the pound. If the clothes don’t sell at the point of sale, Goodwill sells them to textile recyclers who turn them into rags and insulation.

People buy and throw away clothes so quickly for a number of reasons, ranging from the advent of the mall to low prices and an influencer culture. All of this entails a number of environmental risks.

According to United Nations Environment Program, textile dyeing is the second most important pollutant for water and is responsible for 2-8% of carbon emissions worldwide.

Robinson explained that attitudes about shopping changed in the 1980s with the mall, when “window shopping” and shopping for clothes became a leisure activity.

Zero Waste Oxford periodically has a pop-up store in Miami’s Armstrong Center, where it sells used clothing and other materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Photo provided by Thread Up Oxford

Today, those attitudes have evolved into the digital landscape, where cheap clothes, often from foreign companies, make it easy for consumers to rationalize buying clothes they only wear a few times.

“Now, with social media and all the influencers, people are constantly bombarded with desire-creating images,” Robinson said.

In addition to donating and recycling used clothing, Robinson came up with a number of other ways people could reduce their textile waste.

When there is a need to purchase new parts, consumers should aim to buy used items or buy durable brands. Other recommendations include purchasing quality parts and learning how to properly wash and care for clothes to extend their life. She also recommends learning some basic touch-up techniques to fix clothes that might be missing a button or have a small tear.

Miami students are working to reduce textile waste within the campus community.

In October, Zero waste oxford, a student organization committed to waste reduction, organized its Pop-Up Thrift Shop. The boutique, hosted for a week every semester since spring 2019, encourages students to shop for second-hand items while simultaneously raising awareness of issues in the fast-paced fashion industry, said Cassie Conrad, president of the club.

“Not everyone knows how accessible thrift stores are or that you can find ‘good’ clothing thrift stores,” Conrad said.

According to Robinson, buying clothes from a thrift store is one of the best ways to buy clothes when needed.

The pop-up shop encourages students and community members to donate clothing year-round to West Central Miami at Peabody Hall, to prevent textiles from being landfilled or sent overseas.

Those who donate then receive store credit and receive a few free items when the store is up and running.

“I don’t think Miami is worse than any other university, I just don’t think students know their donation options,” Conrad said.

Watch for upcoming Zero Waste Oxford pop-up store dates on the organization’s website events page.

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