Recycling textiles

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  • Created by: Serena
  • Created on: 15-04-11 17:59

Recycling Textiles

There is a growing awareness of the depletion of the worlds natural resources and designers need to respond to society's changing attitudes to environmental issues. Textile companies are working to reduce the impact of textile production on the environment. If designers and manufacturers source more fabrics and components from textile waste or pre-used textile products, then the need for newly manufactured materials could be reduced, saving energy and raw materials. There is a need to continue to reduce textile waste in landfill sites through recycling. 

How are textile products recycled?

  • Fabric off-cuts, roll ends, surplus and slightly damaged fabric are used by designers to produce unique pieces. This is an example of sustainability.
  • Second-hand clothing is donated, swapped or sold to be reused by another person. Clothing banks, door-to-door collections and charity shops provide second- hand clothing to the high street and bales of clothing are exported to less economically developed countries. 
  • Garments and household textiles are reconstructed, and the fabric is reused. Food sacks, lorry tarpaulins and items such as garden umbrellas are recycled to use unusual fashion bags etc..
  • In fibre reclamation, woollen fabric is shredded into fibres for in mattresses or as insulation material or for felting. The fibres can be re-spun into yarn. 
  • Plastic bottles are ground up and made into pellets, then melted and spun into polyester fibres for fleece fabric, or previously used polyester fleeces is recycled into new polyester fabric. 

is recycling a new idea?

Past generations needed to reuse textile products or reclaim fabrics to perhaps overcome a shortage of available or affordable textiles. Ex pensive garments were often handed down in families from one generation to the next or from lady to maidservant: restyling and refitting to suit the new owner. Patchwork quilts made from scraps of fabric have traditionally recycled treasured remnants.

Textile recycling and fashion

Contemporary textile designers are inspired by the past to feature reclaimed fabrics and other recycled materials. These individual creative textile pieces appeal to some consumers who want sustainable or fashionable one-off products, while also influencing mainstream fashion. Many top fashion designers and textile students are exploring the idea of customising or up cycling garments or recycling materials. many consumers will continue to demand fast fashion however the designer can ensure that biodegradable or easily recycled fabrics and components are specified for the fast fashion garments or that they can be designed for quick disassembly to lessen the impact on the environment.   

Environmental issues and sustainability 

Many consumers are…


Shannon Tennant-Smith - Team GR

Extremely helpful, thanx :)

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