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Textile Waste

Textile waste is a serious issue and a growing crisis. Americans throw away, on average, 80 pounds of textiles per year. 95% of that is recyclable. Every year, Material Rebellion diverts hundreds of pounds of discarded textiles and uses it to create beautiful and useful accessories including prayer flags, pencil rolls, zipper pouches, journal covers, slouch bags and messenger bags.

Fast fashion and disposable clothing result in Americans discarding, on average, 80 pounds of textile waste per person per year.


There are some folks who feel better about feeding their fashion fetish because they donate their out of style clothing to charity. Let us make no mistake. There is a ridiculous GLUT of second hand clothing in this country. The majority of it is baled up and shipped to Africa where it creates competition for the local textile industry. In fact, many African countries have banned the import of second-hand clothing from the West.

‘’The scourge of secondhand clothes from the United States and Europe deprives us of jobs and food on the table for the family.”
— Brian Brink, executive director of the South African Textile Federation. NYTimes

While we think that the poor people of the African continent NEED our second hand clothing, the fact is that by destroying an existing textile industry, we actually play a part in KEEPING those countries impoverished.

Here are eight facts you might not have known about textile waste...

  1. The average lifetime of a piece of clothing is only about 3 years.
  2. When it comes to textile waste, the consumer is the biggest culprit. In the U.S., 75% of pre-consumer textile waste is recycled by manufacturers, but only 15% of post-consumer textile waste is recycled.
  3. Every year, 3.8 billion pounds of unnecessary waste from recyclable textiles are added to our landfills.
  4. Clothing and household textiles currently make up 5.2% of the waste in landfills.
  5. Up to 95% of the textiles that are land filled each year could be recycled.
  6. Recycling clothing and textiles decreases the use of natural resources, such as water used in growing crops and petroleum used in creating new clothing and textiles. It also decreases the need for chemicals used in manufacturing new textiles and the pollution caused by the manufacturing process.
  7. The U.S. textile recycling industry creates around 17,000 jobs and removes 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile product from waste stream each year.
  8. Between 1999 and 2009 the volume of post-consumer textile waste generated grew by 40%, while the diversion rate grew by only 4%.


SMART: Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles
Council for Textile Recycling

Visit our shop to see everything we make from reclaimed textiles!

Visit our shop to see everything we make from reclaimed textiles!

We work in cooperation with Goodwill of the Berkshires to reclaim unwanted jeans and t-shirts from the wastestream and give them new life as products that encourage creativity in the young and young at heart. Click here to visit our online shop!