The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) invites next generation recyclers to revitalize the way people think about recycling. SMART would like to see millennials and members of Gen Z lead the way in making conscious decisions about recycling textiles.
“The ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ motto, launched in April 1970, has been a powerful force in encouraging our nation’s citizens to be mindful of their waste habits over the years,” says Jackie King, executive director of SMART. “Unfortunately, the recycling of our textiles has been largely secluded from the narrative – especially among baby boomers and Generation X, who either helped implement the movement or grew up learning to recycle items such as glass and plastic bottles.”
Next generation recyclers will need to alter current trends. The release says that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found alarming rates of textile waste within the U.S. Out of 16.22 million tons of discarded textiles in 2014, only 2.62 million tons were recycled. And textile waste in the United States has risen by nearly 10 percent since 2013.
SMART points to some good news, however. About 95 percent of all textiles can be recycled or reused in some way. “Any clothing item or household textile (bed linens, towels, curtains, stuffed animals, purses, shoes) can be reused and recycled if they are dry and have no odor,” said King. “Even if the item is stained, torn, overly worn or out of date, do not throw it away; it has a use in the textile reuse and recycling industry.”
To spur that message, SMART is paying special attention to the textile recycling habits of millennials and encouraging them to teach their children about the benefits of recycling textiles, which may include reducing landfill space and pollution created by incinerators. The bottom line is that recycling is good for generations to come.
SMART is an international nonprofit trade association that promotes the interdependence of the for-profit textile recycling industry segments and provides a common forum for networking, education and trade. Visit smartasn.org to find local SMART textile recycling sites.