These days textile recycling is an essential part of our daily lives. As we are designers or other people who work in the fashion industry, we all know the effect fast fashion is having globally. Consumers demand keeping up with every current trend, and we can’t change that. But we can ensure that what we do and offer daily positively affects the environment.

Yes, manufacturers are producing an enormous amount of clothes that are in fashion one day, and discarded the next. As a result, landfills are filled with discarded clothes worldwide. In addition, fast fashion is affecting the planet’s CO2 emissions. This is why recycling and sustainability is so important.

It's time to eliminate textile waste

We can improve how we design, print and manufacture fabric and clothes to preserve the planet for future generations and eliminate waste too. We can limit the energy, water and chemicals we use to produce our products. And we can think of ways to recycle clothes and materials so they don’t end up in landfills.

There’s another positive effect of recycling and saving waste and also considering the planet. It’s a proven fact that customers prefer sustainable brands who are environmentally aware in everything they do. Sustainability is such an important issue these days that the world is taking it seriously, and we need to do everything we can to protect our planet by recycling in every possible way.

What is fabric waste?

Every UK citizen produces around 3.1kg of material excess every year, according to statistics. And of this amount, people only recycle around 0.3kg. What’s more, they incinerate more than that – 0.8kg to be precise. But even worse is that each person disposes of around 1.7kg of excess textiles in landfills. That’s certainly a sobering statistic on fabric waste in the 21st century.

And here are some more:

  • It’s estimated that in 2022, 21 billion pounds of worthless products made from textiles including clothes will end up in landfills.
  • org tells us that globally, 92 million tonnes of textile waste ends up in landfills every year. And here in Britain we’re responsible for 336,000 tonnes of that amount.
  • It takes over 200 years for material waste to decompose in landfills, and throughout that amount of time, the fabrics generate methane gas. As a result, toxic chemicals and dyes are landing up in our soil.

Read our guide to tackling material scraps right here. Another great read is our inspirational blog on why sustainability in fashion is essential.

Why it's important to recycle clothing

To ensure that waste materials have less impact on the planet, more and more clothing manufacturers are recommending we recycle our clothes and keep them out of landfills. And what does the recycle process entail?

  1. Create sustainable materials that have less negative effect on the environment. When we manufacture textiles from natural fibers, we use less energy and water. We use greener dyes for colouring those textiles as well.
  2. Reuse old clothes often. Recyclers of textiles collect used clothes like jeans, T-shirts and other items and resell them, or remake these waste items from existing ones, to give them a second life.
  3. More and more vintage clothes outlets are offering gently worn clothes and this is another great way to recycle clothing for you to consider.

      The hard facts about textile recycling

      There’s no getting away from it – the fashion and textiles industry is considered one of the biggest contributors to pollution globally. We can change this with positive action and attitude towards waste fabrics. This involves manufacturing long-lasting products like clothes that are environmentally friendly, and using more sustainable manufacturing methods for these clothes and products. It’s vital that we take energy conservation seriously, and do our utmost to cut down on waste and pollution.

      Let's define sustainable textiles

            • Sustainable or recycled textiles are those that are natural and plant-based, materials that have been grown without using pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Examples include cotton, linen and flax.These raw materials are then manufactured using less water and energy to make them even more sustainable.
            • Sustainable materials also include salvaged materials, materials we recycle, items and clothes given a second life.

            • We also consider some material blends of natural and synthetic textiles to be sustainable. We consider a synthetic like rPET (recycled polyester) to be sustainable as this recycled product is created from excess upcycled plastic, eg plastic bottles.

      Read all about the sustainable textiles British businesses choose for their products.

      Recycling unwanted clothes and textiles

      Here’s some helpful inspiration on how to be more sustainable and use recycled textiles

      1. To produce more sustainable material and fashion clothing we need to use more sustainable and recycled materials. If we do, this will have a huge impression on the environment. Since 2020, the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) in Britain, a policy followed by fashion brands, designers, material producers and recyclers, has been doing its utmost to assist the fashion industry reduce the effect of excess clothes and textiles too. Through various initiatives, the SCAP policy has measured and calculated the sustainable progress we’re making and offered valuable solutions to “reduce the carbon, water pollutes and scraps impacts of fashion clothing products”.
      2. For reusing textiles, various UK-registered charities, charity shops and organisations offer garment collection facilities. Aside from the material initiative undertaken by the likes of Salvation Army, there are many others you can use. These include icollect clothes plus HeartUKand The British Heart Foundation. Some have a charity store, and others offer free home collections of recycled textiles, making reusing textiles easy.
      3. Think about ways you can use remnants or recycled textiles to create products for your small business.
      4. You can also follow maake’s lead by creating new clothes and other recycled items out of these leftover materials. We call this the maakeLess material excess initiative. maake’s recycled clothing and textiles initiative includes sending remnants of textiles to local charities, schools and educational institutions to be reused.
      5. maake also collects all offcuts of textiles from our printing processes and put these into 1kg and 2.5kg upcycling bags. And we offer these free of charge to customers in our personalised ads. Pick these up from our local factory in North London, for free. This way, you also save on carbon offsets as we don’t have to deliver to your door. You can also have one delivered to your home (the only amount you pay is for shipping).

            Companies that provide clothing and textile recycling services

            As we know, reusing clothing is good for the environment! Once you’ve reused your discarded clothes and home materials, they are sorted and reprocessed into new items.

            Here are some more ideas on how to recycle textiles and clothes

            • Drop off used clothing and textiles you want to recycle at textiles recycling sites, textiles banks and textiles recycling collection points in supermarkets and local car parks.
            • Some high street retailers like H&M, M&S and Primark have garment donation banks for clothes plus shoes and other textiles recycling bins in a selection of their fashion stores. Use these bins for textiles to recycle and reuse unwanted clothes and other items made from textiles that are still in good condition.
            • Donate unwanted clothes and textiles to a charity store.

            Interested in where you can recycle in the UK? You don’t have to find on Facebook Twitter and Instagram to find your nearest site or textiles recycling bank. For your nearest clothes recycling centre, follow this fabrics recycling locator for assistance. We have personalised content on this especially for you.

            Looking at recycling from a different perspective

            • When you buy something made of fabrics, make a conscious choice – select something eco-friendly rather than synthetic. That’s one way of recycling textiles.
            • Buy only as much textiles as you need for a project, no more. That way, you will find that you won’t have scraps to reuse and this will help you save waste material.
            • One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: remember this. Use leftover materials, like the waste materials and recycled material offcuts we offer at maake, to create new clothes and items for your small enterprise.
            • The easiest textiles to recycle is cotton, as it’s biodegradable. This is a good tip to remember every time you produce or purchase a garment.
            • Read our guide to sustainable innovation in business for more inspiration.

            How recycling textiles can save the planet

            1. Recycle waste materials by using them to make items for your company – like clothes and tableware or home décor and home accessories. 

            2. Print a design or pattern on these plain waste materials, or dye them. 

            3. Let’s do a little arithmetic. If you order one 15kg upcycling bag containing waste material offcuts, you’re saving a lot of materials from going to landfill. And that 15kg is also equivalent to waste material usually created by 3 people in Britain in a year. Think about that!

            We’ve put together a great guide on why your business should be sustainable. Read the important information here!

            Your recycling reward from maake

            When you order one of our upcycling bags, which we offer free of charge, you help us with our textile recycling process and you save waste too. You will receive a bag full of plain offcuts of textiles from our factory. We also give you a maakeLess material excess contributor certificate for recycling with us.

            You can share this recycling initiative with your followers by taking a photograph of yourself with this certificate and tagging us @maakeuk on Instagram. Then we’ll add you to our recycling contributor list for our global fans to see on our Instagram page!

            Don't waste! Recycle textiles with us

            How to save waste and recycle – don't wait any longer, grab your 1 and 2.5kg upcycling bags full of material offcuts today. We also offer a shipping box filled with up to 15kg of plain textiles offcuts. Find the item you want and click here to get your free recycling bag now. If you prefer, you can have the upcycling bag delivered to you – you only pay for delivery.

            July 11, 2023 — Artemis Doupa