Let’s go into a more natural, regenerative alternative to throwing you textiles in the trash, where they will then be sent to a landfill, where they will add to the many piles of trash that accumulates to greenhouse gases at a very rapid pace.

Composting fabric! Composting is a great way to reduce your overall waste, and limit your input to landfills – which are constantly growing and have a huge impact on climate change.

Why Compost Fabric?

With the current linear textile economy, the fashion industry is amongst the top three industries who are contributing to global warming. The other two are: the oil and commercial meat production.

Only around 10% of clothing donated to charities in the hopes of either being recycled or reused by someone who needs it is sold. The other 90% of this clothing ends up getting tossed in a landfill with creates methane gas and contributes to warming the planet.

However, if fashion is made circular, along with any other industry, the products made can either be recycled or returned to the Earth through composting. If the materials are either composted or recycled, they will be kept out of landfills which have a huge contribution, as we’ve already covered, to green house gases.

Recycling textiles can be tricky to figure out, and differs area to area. From my knowledge and continuous research, there are seldom any place where you can recycle clothing as of right now. Many if not all of this recycling means that you are donating your clothes to charity stores, which we are now figuring out only 10% of really gets used, while the rest thrown to waste.

Composting is a great alternative when needing to dispose/get rid of your clothing once you are completely done with it, without adding to landfills. However, only certain usually all natural fibers are compostable.

Which Fabrics are Compostable

Textiles that are made of fully natural materials can be returned to the earth to biodegrade and create new resources. How awesome is that? Let’s dive into exactly which of these textiles are natural, and are biodegradable/can be composted.

Biodegradable fabrics (plant-based) (vegan)

  • cotton
  • hemp
  • bamboo
  • linen

Biodegradable fabrics (animal-based) (not vegan) (not necessary)

  • silk
  • wool
  • cashmere

Non-biodegradable fabrics:

  • polyester
  • spandex
  • nylon
  • rayon

Helpful hint: for eco-fashion brands to label themselves “compostable”, 60-90% of the product must be able to break down into CO2 within 180 days in a commercial composting facility.

How the heck to do it

Now that you know what sort of fibers are able to be composted – mainly all natural (better yet – organic) fibers, that is – you’re probably wondering how to do it. Let’s take a look on what steps we need to take in order to successfully return some nice fabrics to the oh so lovely Mother Earth.

  1. Shred your clothes.
    1. to compost your clothes the fastest you can, it’s important to make them into smaller pieces so they can decompose fast and efficiently. Use a pair of nice fabric scissors, or your bare hands, to shred up your clothes so the soil can eat them up and turn them into natural resources.
  2. Remove anything that won’t biodegrade.
    1. this includes any plastics (many times there are synthetic tags connected to the clothing), metals such as buttons and zippers, or any other non biodegradable materials. These can be kept for future repairs/other needs. Or safely recycled.
  3. Use a hot compost for faster results
    1. this isn’t always achievable, but using a hotter compost will enhance the time it takes to compost your fabrics.
    2. This type of compost requires extra love and support, so make sure you are dedicated before deciding to go this route. Hot composting is able to break down matter in 18 days – much faster than any other known form of composting.
  4. Add little worm friends to your compost.
    1. when it comes to composting, think of worms as your BFF. They produce one of if not THE best fertilizer on the planet – THANKS little guys – and would lend an amazing helping hand to really help decompose your textiles. Please be respectful to them is all I ask. <3
  5. Shop smarter
    1. When you get that urge to update your closet, look for clothing and brands that are supportive natural, biodegradable textiles and recycled material that can be continuously recycled and is not harmful to our skin or the planet. Look for brands that support safe, natural dying processes and fair trade.
  6. When in doubt, recycle!
    1. Try researching clothing recycling facilities, although there are not many out there at the moment. If this is difficult, try clothing swaps with your friends, or deliver them personally to people that need them – like those living on the streets or homeless shelters. If you still have more after these options, donate to charities.

Shop to Compost / Recycle

Next time you purchase clothing, check out which brands support sustainable fashion that is able to be fully composted or recycled. This can be pretty overwhelming especially if you’ve never thought about this before.

Check the tags of what you’re purchasing, ask the sales associate or email the company on their composting / recycling policies. It’s really important for consumers to care about what they are purchasing and what effects it has on the planet, since many times the whole picture isn’t shown to us.

Here’s an example of a compostable textile. Although pricey, Eileen Fisher supports high end, quality clothing that is organic and sustainable.

The next step…

Slowly but surely, more and more clothing brands are hopping on the sustainability train and caring more and more about humanity, animals, and the environment. Not all of them of course, but once one does, it brings more awareness to the problem at stake.

With more and more awareness brought to the pollution problem of textiles, the chemicals that is used and contributed and the growing textile waste in landfills from countless clothing brands around the world, we are able to put a stop to this.

I believe in a clean, circular, fashion world that is healthy and humane for all living beings on this planet.

Join us in this wonderful cause!

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Composting Fabric – Help nourish the planet with your textiles”

  • catherine says :

    This si a brilliant post, really well presented and written. I actually compost myself but never thought or composting those fabric.
    i also really like your idea of shopping to compost. We all grow out of clothes or wear them down to the point where they need to be disposed of.
    This makes so much sense and I will be doing this in the future!
    Thank you so much for the idea.

    1. Riley says :

      thanks Catherine! I love to hear that you compost and will look into adding natural textiles to your compost as well. 🙂

  • michael j lisbona says :

    I really like this post site. I’m all for anything that will help the earth. Maybe I’m ignorant to this but I really think your on to something great here. Very innovative. I donate old clothes all the time and had no idea the % that gets thrown out.
    Best of Luck!

    1. Riley says :

      thank you so much, Michael! I have always had a love for fashion but an even bigger love for the health of our planet & people, so it can be hard hearing about the negative impacts the fashion industry as a whole has on our environment. Hence why I’m devoted to creating awareness and happy, healthy alternatives to your closet. 🙂

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