Americans need to find a way to increase the amount of household items that they recycle. Currently, we are a nation that throws out more than what we reuse or recycle. Consider some of these disappointing facts about the amount of trash that Americans we generate:
- 70 pounds is the amount of of clothing, linens, and other textiles the average American throws away each year.
- 5% of municipal waste is made up of textiles because only about 15% of them are ever recycled.
- The average American buys at least twice as many pieces of clothing as 20 years ago. Unfortunately, this increase does not mean that Americans are recycling more.
There are three basic ways that you can help limit the number of items that you contribute to the landfill. You can
direct your items to local clothing donations, you can repurpose the items that you have, or you can make sure that you recycle as many items as possible instead of throwing everything in the garbage can.
The Importance of Making Local Clothing Donations
Used clothing donations are a way for you and everyone in your family to help others in need. By donating to local charities, local churches, and other organizations you can keep your unused textiles out of the dump. The careless practice of simply throwing away clothes that you no longer wear is depriving others of items that could be of help.
Even if you do not think that you have the time to donate items to traditional charities and churches, some organizations allow you to make donations 24 hours a day. For instance, an organization named GreenDrop now has approximately 30 free-standing locations and mobile trailers positioned across the country. These collection sites that can be used around the clock have so far gathered an average of 100 tons of donations every single week. In fact, the organization raised $2.5 million for participating charities in the year 2014 alone. Through its collection of local clothing donations, GreenDrop prevents these 100 tons of used clothes, electronics and household goods from being thrown into otherwise overcrowded landfills. Many of these products are given new life not only in this country, but around the world. For instance, many donated products are sent to developing nations where individuals purchase used American goods for pennies of their original price. This means that internationally more than 14.3 million tons of donated American textiles help clothe people and families around the world.
Local clothing donations that make their way to wounded veterans charities or those in need across the globe do not end up in the landfill.
Can You Repurpose the Items You No Longer Use?
From t-shirt quilts that can serve as a memory to someone in your family to old towels and blankets that can be used for animals in shelters, there are plenty of ways to repurpose the items that we might otherwise throw in the trash. In addition, an entire industry of crafters no make a living recycling what they call vintage items. Old suitcases into end tables. Old garage tools into wall decorations. Old car parts into industrial art pieces. Whether they are made for a personal effect or for a profit, these repurposed items also serve the end result of keeping more items out of the landfill.
When an Item Is No Longer Useful, Is there a Way to Recycle?
Even the most worn and torn textiles can still serve a purpose. Recycled textiles, in fact, fuel an entire industry. Workers are employed to begin the rather extensive process of breaking down old textiles and reusing them in new products. Many of the clothing items that are on the market today include recycled content. And while these items occasionally cost more, they come with the added benefit of helping the planet and keeping more items out of landfills.
Through donating to local charities, repurposing items you no longer use, and recycling as many items as possible Americans can do thier part in keeping the crowded landfills from being even more crowded. If you take a step back and make the wise decision to quit buying more than what you really need, you can also play into a more positive result.