Extending the life cycle of textile waste
Merriam Webster simply defines textile as “cloth; especially: a woven or knit cloth.” This meant that my statistics for textile waste included much more than just T-shirts. Besides, many companies have recently implemented recycling processes for pre, and post-consumer clothing waste. For example, Martex Fiber takes this unwanted clothing and grinds down the fabrics. This material is then used to create furniture, course yarn, and paper. Considering the manufacturers recycled approximately 75 percent of pre-consumer waste, I wanted to explore the uses for post-consumer waste with a new take on the term textile.
Since my initial interests on this topic arose from my passion for clothing design and the issues I had with the industries’ existing system, I began to search for forms of textile waste that I could upcycle into wearables. With more research, I found that the United States generates 9.8 million tons of furniture waste yearly. Even more intriguing is the fact that furniture is the number one least recycled item in households. Of course, furniture that doesn’t go directly to landfills is often donated to second-hand stores; however, with an increase of supply and a lack of demand, the majority of furniture at second-hand shops is sent to the landfill too. After discovering this, I realized the potential that this furniture waste has in the clothing industry.