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85 percent of our used textile items are clogging U.S. landfills

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the U.S. generates an average of 25 billion pounds of textiles per year. That's about 82 pounds per person in the country.

Textiles include clothes, footwear, accessories, towels, bedding, and more. Only 15 percent of our textiles are donated or recycled, which means 85 percent of our used items are clogging the nation’s landfills.

"I think some people don't donate and recycle because they don't want to deal with it," said Nina McCord, who says she shops at thrift stores almost every day.

She likes to support them, but she also donates items she doesn't use anymore.

"They're still nice, and somebody can use them, and I hope that they'll sell them at a price that somebody can really afford that really needs them," McCord said.

Unfortunately, most of America is unlike Nina. In fact, 21 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste, including clothing, shoes, belts, purses and hats, isn't being recycled and instead is being dumped into landfills each year. According to the Council for Textile Recycling that amount is still growing.

"I think it's horrible!" said McCord.

Alan Hayworth, the district manager for Team Thrift, is trying to raise awareness about the issue. He wants to let people know that most of their used items can all be re-purposed. So the question is, why aren't people recycling?

"What people are throwing away in landfills is equivalent to about two million cars on the road for pollution," said Hayworth. "It's largely a convenience issue.”

"It's just easy to just throw them in a bag and throw them away," added McCord, who agrees.

About 50 percent of donations in the Kansas City area come from donation bins, but they might not be around for long.

"Here recently there's been a big push with city ordinances and municipalities to regulate how the bins are placed, where they're placed, and how many are placed on each property," said Hayworth. "It's creating a bit more challenges for us to get the bins placed."

McCord says it's a simple act of kindness and also helps the environment, and that there's really no reason for these statistics.

"Don't be so selfish," said McCord.

If you would like to donate any items you no longer need, there are many locations where you can drop them off. CLICK HERE to view those locations.

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1 Comment

  • Jon

    Why don’t people recycle more? Because its INCONVENIENT, especially with respect to textiles. Ban the conveniently located bins and expect more clothes to go to the trash. Its that simple. People won’t drive to a store to drop them off. It’s not going to work.