Monday, February 21, 2011

Clothes Cycling

Clothing made from sheets and
slippers made from sweaters
are comfy and responsible!
Recently, at Goods for the Planet we met a lady who makes dresses and slippers from cloth items such as sheets that had been discarded for having torn edges (fitted corners wear out first!) and sweaters that had holes in them.  Here's a picture of some of the great items she's made. Although the primary consideration with clothing has to be comfort, fit and looks, it's wonderful to realize that the material came from something that was otherwise headed into the waste stream. Isn't it great to be responsible without having to sacrifice comfort!

I was reminded of this when I read this week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge
"This week, take a look at all the disposable items you use and find Eco-friendly alternatives."
The problem, for me, with this challenge is that I don't have a lot of disposable items. I can get my razors to go for at least two weeks, and I don't use paper towels  - cotton rags are better for every cleaning purpose!

But there is one item that I dispose of regularly: clothes. They simply wear out. Pants get holes in knees, socks get holes in toe and heels, and even shirts eventually get thin enough that their SPF is about 2 or maybe less. Some sources estimate that, were it not for re-use/recycle programs, textile waste could make up four percent of America's garbage!

Most of my gear is cotton that, when it becomes too raggy to wear, can become cleaning rags. When cleaning rags become too raggy for cleaning, they can be composte, as long as they haven't been used on toxics. The rags I use on my car tend to get polluted with petroleum gunk, so they go into the trash; I can't think of any better way to deal with them.

Unfortunately, jeans and sweaters don't make good rags. I'm not sure why that is; there's something about cotton denim and wool/acrylic sweater blends that don't make good scrubbing rags. I'm sure someone who's a pro at this could explain why.

Now the Goods for the Planet lady gives me another option. When a sweater or pair of jeans reaches the end of its utility cycle, I'll toss it into the "sewing scraps" box for delivery next time I stop by their store ( sense making an extra trip.) It's a small thing, perhaps, but wasn't the Great Wall made of millions of bricks?


Small Footprints said...

Wow ... I never really thought about the clothing which gets tossed. I make rags out of old clothes ... and with the denim, I cut them up and use the pieces as wrapping paper. They also work well for quilts (for those talented enough to do that ... I'm not). But beyond that, I never really thought about what happens to that cleaning rag that has become thread bare. Turning sheets, etc. into clothing is a fabulous idea!

Thanks, Rewinn!

Kris said...

I agree...turning sheets and other cloth items into usable clothing is a wonderful idea. I'll have to see if there is somewhere around my area that I can do that.