Thursday, June 20, 2013
Recycled vs.Regular Clothing
As Americans become more aware of the impact of their purchases, the market for recycled clothing has increased tremendously. Even the regular clothing industry has responded to increasing environmental awareness, with products made from organic fibers such as cotton and hemp. Your clothes and personal effects account for nearly 5 percent of the solid waste you generate. The environmental effect of your purchases varies with the type of clothing.
If you have clothes made with fleece, chances are you are wearing recycled clothing. Recycled polyethylene terephthalate plastic labeled 1-PET is a source for fleece, polyester and other materials. The plastic's resistance to solvents makes it a good choice for making fleece clothing. Its resiliency improves the durability of outdoor clothing over that of regular clothing. Recycled clothing from plastic offers an additional benefit of reducing landfill waste.
Regular clothing often costs more than recycled because of the expenses involved in using raw materials. Clothing made from natural fibers such as wool or cotton has a high carbon footprint because of the energy needed to bring these items to market. For many natural goods, the farm stage incurs the greatest cost. Recycled clothing, on the other hand, has a ready supply of materials from sources like recycled plastic. This factor makes such items more affordable.
Regular and recycled clothing contribute to pollution to some degree. Regular clothing made from synthetic fabrics is environmentally expensive. Petroleum is used as a raw material and for the production process. The result is an increase in energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. Recycled clothing eliminates the need for petroleum as a raw material and offers a more eco-friendly alternative. On the downside, the affordability of recycled clothing might make you more likely to discard it.
Both recycled and regular clothing share a trait regarding reusability. Either type can be repurposed into new clothing. The process varies with the type of fabric. Even clothing that shows signs of heavy wear can still be reused. Textile recyclers can purchase unsold or unusable clothing and make new apparel. Recycled clothing has the edge, however. The potential for recycled clothing has not been reached, with only 17 percent of used clothing being collected by the secondary textile industry, based on a 2006 study by Oakdene Hollins of the United Kingdom clothing industry. This represents a significant environmental benefit for recycled clothing in terms of further reducing landfill waste.
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