LTT - May 2023 - Diverting Textile Waste
I’m writing on trash barge day. This morning Waste Manager Mark said he had a truck-load of garbage to get together from the depot. When I asked what kind of garbage, his answer was quick and unequivocal, “Clothing”. He estimates that roughly four to six big black garbage bags of clothing that is stained, ripped, smelly, moldy, unrepairable and beyond reuse, are sent to the landfill every month. On top of that at least ten banana boxes of excess clothing is taken over to thrift stores on the other side because the Lasqueti Free Store can’t keep up with the volume donated by locals. While ‘better’ than landfill, thrift stores can’t always sell what they receive as donations. Items that are stained or ripped or out of season are sold by the pound and act as a fund raiser for the business or charity selling. Once received, they typically got to either Value Village or CanAm, who attempt first to upcycle these into rags and stuffing but then export them and it is no longer possible to track their fate.
Textile waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams in the world. According to TheRoundup.org (https://theroundup.org/textile-waste-statistics) the average person buys 60% more clothing items today that they did twelve years ago and they keep that clothing half as long. On average, a person wears a piece of clothing ten times before discarding it, globally leading to approximately 92 million tonnes of waste annually. Textile production has more than doubled since 2020 in response to this trend. Green-house gas emissions are now estimated to exceed all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Massive amounts of water are used to manufacture clothing and the hazardous chemicals needed for production affect both workers and the environment.
Fast fashion is a global concern, even though we don’t witness it up close. It is fueld by mass production of poor quality clothing intended for short term use. Factories aren’t paying workers a fair wage and working conditions are often inhumane. The majority of products are made with synthetic materials which release micro plastics into the marine environment when laundered. Learn more through the documentaries The True Cost and Fashion Reimagined.
The colossal waste is mind blowing and yet many of us participate in its creation, perhaps unwittingly. How do we turn the tides? Slow fashion considers the full life cycle of textiles and everyone and everything affected by their production; the workers, the environment, the communities where they are produced, the consumers that buy them, and what will happen at the end of their life. A growing list of companies are trying to adopt sustainable and ethical practices when it comes to clothing, such as Anian in Victoria who uses upcycled wool and cashmere in their line. They are by no means the only company making such efforts – others are a mere search engine hunt away.
Another great way to slow down the fashion train is by buying second hand. Picking up clothing at your local Free Store, dropping off at a consignment store or hosting a Clothing Swap are even easier on your wallet. Used products are less expensive, don’t require new resources, don’t generate more pollution, don’t require energy to manufacture and don’t have packaging. While these are all admirable, they don’t address the problem of managing textiles that have reached their end of life.
The Gabriola Island Recycling Organization (GIRO) has begun to address this issue. In 2020, GIRO was struggling to deal with the amount of clothing donations they received. They didn’t have room to store them, many were not worthy of selling in their Restore, and during the global shut down the company that used to take the excess was no longer picking them up. In response, GIRO came up with an initiative called Cradle2Cradle (C2C) Threads; a social enterprise intended to reduce the amount of textiles going to the landfill by upcycling material into a new product line that has longevity and supports a sustainable, circular economy on Gabriola.
Beginning with the idea, GIRO gathered information through surveys and questionnaires, applied for and raised funds and invited community members to explore potential design ideas for a product line. Functionality, practicality, production characteristics (like ease and time) and marketability were considered. The top three designs were unpaper towels, stuffing applications (like dog beds and cushions), and acoustic sound panels. All of these are being pursued, so stay tuned if you’re in the market for sound panels!
Currently GIRO is seeking funding for a maker space with stations and tools for rent as well as room for workshops on rethinking textiles. The space is meant to support designer entrepreneurs and community tailors and sewers as well as an in-house repair person to help extend the life of clothing. You can find more information about the good work GIRO is doing at https://www.girodepot.com/initiatives/c2c/
I find the idea of locally up-cycling textiles destined for landfill or export very exciting and inspiring. I bet some of you do, too. Maybe there is a Lasquetian out there right now with an entrepreneurial bent and a design idea which will transform what we consider waste into something useful and even profitable. I sure hope so! Contact in-fo@LetsTalkTrash.ca to get connected to those who could assist your explorations! To start on your own, connect with the Textile Lab for Circularity https://www.labforcircularity.com/
Notes from Mark: A Tire Collection Event has been approved. We are now accepting reservations for up to five tires per person. Call Mark at 250 240 9886 or email email@example.com
Island Trash Removal: On the second Wednesday of the month from 10 am until the barge is full - at the False Bay barge ramp. Any changes due to weather will be posted on the email list, FB Lasqueti Hotwire, and the Lasqueti website. No construction materials, renovation or demolition waste, prohibited waste, organics, recyclable material or stewardship mate-rials. $7.50 per bag. $37.50 for a truckload. Mattresses and boxsprings $15 each. Please call Mark is you have any questions about what constitutes acceptable garbage.
Recycling Depot: Fall/Winter Hours Apr 1st-Sep 30th
Mon 10 am – 5 pm, Thursdays 10 am - 5 pm
Closed on Statutory Holidays. All recycling is monitored. Please bring it CLEAN and DRY and SORTED.
Free Store: Fall/Winter Hours Apr 1st-Sep 30th
Monday 10 am – 2 pm and Thursday 1 - 5 pm
Please respect the signs. Drop donations during open hours so they can be quarantined. Outstanding items only, i.e. clean, usable clothing and household items. Please, NO food, garbage, recycling, TV’s, soft foam, batteries, electrical devices, mattresses or hazardous materials, ie: chemicals, fluorescent light tubes, prescription/non-prescription drugs, or pills in general. There are recycling programs on Vancouver Island for many of these materials.
Recycle BC Website: www.recyclebc.ca/what-can-i-recycle
Return-It Beverage Depot open 24/7 Front left of Free Store. Open 24/7.
Front left of the Free Store. No refundable glass (beer, wine, hard liquor) bottles, please take these to the nearest Return-It Beverage depot yourself. Yes to aluminum beer, cider, pop cans, coconut water cans, boxed wine cartons (leave them intact) and tetra juice packs, including (rinsed) milk and milk substitute containers. Please leave the caps on and push the straws in and do not crush containers. Labels can be left on.
If you have any questions, comments, suggestions for me and the qRD Let’s Talk Trash team, please get in touch. Jennyv@lasqueti.ca or 8601