Metro Vancouver has launched Think Thrice About Your Clothes, a new waste reduction campaign aimed at cutting the amount of clothing being thrown out in the region.
Textile waste is one of the fastest-growing categories of waste, currently accounting for five per cent of the annual total garbage produced each year in the region. Last year, Metro Vancouver residents threw out more than 44 million pounds of textiles, equivalent to the weight of 44 T-shirts per person.
“We buy an astonishing three times as much clothing as we did back in the 1980s,” said director Jack Froese, chair of Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee. “Much of this ‘fast fashion’ is relatively cheap to buy and ends up in the trash, when it could otherwise have been repaired or recycled.”
As part of its campaign, Metro Vancouver promotes options for reducing, repairing and reusing clothing, as well as tips on how to make smart choices when buying new clothes. Choosing quality clothes that are made to last will ensure the wearer will get the most out of them, save money and reduce the long-term environmental impact. Buying second-hand or renting clothing are also greener alternatives.
The campaign also aims to clear up confusion around where to dispose of unwanted items, especially if they are not in pristine condition. Second-hand clothing retailers and non-profit organizations will accept almost anything from a single shoe to ripped shirts; the only stipulation is that donated clothing is clean, dry and packed in a plastic bag or box. Mouldy, paint-stained or oil-covered clothes cannot be re-used or recycled.
“If second-hand retailers can’t use an item, they will pack it up and ship it to markets that can use them,” said Metro Vancouver chair Sav Dhaliwal. “With help from residents we can keep textiles out of the garbage and help our region divert more waste out of our landfills.”
Clothing swaps and making alterations to an existing wardrobe are also great alternatives to donating garments that don’t fit or are no longer fashionable. The “Think Thrice About Your Clothes” campaign will provide information on everything from how to make alterations to existing wardrobe items to stain removal and clothing rental services.