Grave Garments

Have you utilized any materials made from recycled textile materials today? Most likely, the answer is yes! Did you know that textile recycling has been going on for hundreds of year's right under our noses?First, you have to ask yourself what is a textile? According to Waste Age Magazine, textiles are defined as goods which are made from woven or knitted cloth for instance wool and cotton fibers, vinyl and other artificial fabrics, and products produced from fur or other animal skins. The textile recycling industry is made up of around 3,000 corporations (both big and small). This business is really divided into different divisions: "pre-consumer" and "post-consumer". The amazing thing about these companies is that they're capable of recycling 93% of what they receive (which is considered a waste product!)!!!How do they do it? Let's begin with pre-consumer materials. These come from factory waste and include clippings, cuttings, and mill-ends remnants, thread waste, and even goods which are damaged during production. For clippings and cuttings, the material is first taken to the work area and sorted by size, material content, color, and waste. They are then sorted into 1,000 lb bales and kept in inventory until they're ready to be shipped. Quite a few times, these clippings and cuttings are sent to a reprocessing plant where the material is torn apart and produced into "shoddy". The primary use for this is the stuffing for cushions and pillows, carpet padding, mattress padding, and also molded padding for the automotive marketplace. With these finished products, the recycling process has gone full circle!The highest form of recycling although is reuse. With reuse, a minimal amount of energy and resources are utilized to convert it from one form to another. According to the EPA, post-consumer textile product waste is about 4% - 6% of residential waste and includes items such as clothes, drapes, towels, sheets and blankets, table clothes, handbags, shoes, and socks. Did you know that there around 2,000 businesses that divert these things from the landfill? They save all around 2.6 billion pounds of post consumer textile materials! Approximately 500 million pounds of this is used by the collecting agency while the rest is sold to used clothing dealers, exporters, wiper manufacturers, and fiber recyclers. Over 60% of these products are exported.The collection agencies are typically charitable institutions. They tend to utilize a drop-off center, drop-off box, or telephone routing system that has trucks going door to door. Some communities are now even including curb side collections for textiles! Some of the larger collection agencies you may be familiar with include Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and St. Jude's. Communities that are recycling textiles include Carroll County, Iowa; St. Paul, Minnesota; San Jose, California; and Somerset County, New Jersey. Aberdeen, Maryland and Palm Beach County, Florida do a yearly textile pickup. However, textiles which are being collected at curbside must be kept dry. If they get wet, they could decompose or get moldy.Even though textile recycling was happening in Egypt in the time of the pharaohs, it is now just getting attention by both society and also the government. Unlike other recyclables whose collections are mandated by the government, the textile marketplace has always been market driven. Only 15% of textile products are being diverted from the waste stream for recycling! That is a number that has to change.

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