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Feb 11, 2019

A research into textile waste

The voice of our expert Alicia on the journey of our fashion choices.

Repaired fabric with sewing technique.
Repaired fabric with sewing technique
This article is part of Fixing Fashion, a One Army project trying to fix fashion. You can learn more

Hello community 🙌
Alicia here, I joined the V4 team back in October, but contrary to the rest, I am not focusing exclusively on plastic. Instead I am researching on fashion and textiles, how it affects our society and planet, but I also research tools to help you deal with the fashion mess.

The fashion problem

In the age of fast fashion, textiles are often seen as a disposable product, but actually they can last forever. Just like plastic (20-200 years before they decompose in a landfill). The majority of fast fashion garments are plastic-based or mixed fibers, which cannot be recycled and will not naturally decompose in landfills. With ever expanding and accessible shopping options we need solutions for the growing amount of clothes and textile accumulating from this lifestyle.

different types of clothes with expected decomposition time
Can you spot the differences between natural vs. synthetic materials?

Donate your clothes

Often we justify shopping with an intention to later donate cast-offs to charity, but while part of the charity donations in the EU are reported as sold in stores, the rest is largely shipped overseas, often to countries in East-Europe, Africa and India. Giving to charity becomes more an act of dumping. But what really happens with the clothing, when you donate them in a textile bin on the street to a charity or recycling company? As part of our research we went to Salvation Army and Sympany, two clothing recycling/sorting centres to find out how much clothing ends up there every week and where it will end up. You can read more in this article I posted on our forums.

tons of dumped clothes
Fashion waste

Can we recycle it?

The problem is getting big. Massive. We keep consuming cheap (disposable) clothes that damage people, environments and cultures. Waste piles are quickly getting out of hands, with hardly anyone needing or wanting them. Recycling those garments is also super difficult as the fibers in garments are all mixed up with label often misleading or inaccurate.

What are we focusing on?

Personally, and within the team here in Eindhoven, our bottom line is simple: consume less, change our habits and take good care of our clothes. However, this is easier said than done. It is a journey rather than a goal. A journey that needs tools and guidance to help make the right choices and shift our behaviour. Through this research we want to help people make the right decision about their garments from purchase to disposal. How to choose the best shirt, how to make your clothes last, techniques to easily repair a broken item, redesign out of fashion items and possibly how to recycle them at the end of their cycle. And we have a juicy pile of discarded clothes from one of the many secondhand store in Eindhoven to experiment with 🙂

More coming soon from me 👀

darning technique
Darning technique.
darning technique
Darning technique.
edge mend technique
Edge mend technique.

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