Taking on Textile Waste 2024

The Taking on Textiles event was held on March 23, 2024 at Solana Center for Environmental Innovation in Encinitas, CA. It was open to the public. We were grateful for recognition from California Assemblymember Tasha Boerner’s office. District Director Janet Chin spoke to the importance of the event as an early beacon to the increasing environmental problem of textile waste in our state, providing actionable solutions.

An informative graphic that includes the five steps of the sustainable textile journey. Repair, repurpose, recycle, rethink, and reuse

The purpose of the event was to educate the community about the impact of clothing and textile waste, and the urgent need to move towards more sustainable models in fashion. Local professionals in the textile and clothing design industry provided demonstrations and insight. Local student and Girl Scout, Isla Rindt, presented information about the harmful effects of textile waste and how it can be diverted.

“I first became interested in the environmental impact of the textile industry when I started thrifting and sewing my own clothes. This eventually led me to discover the exponential rate at which clothing is being discarded and just how unsustainable modern fast fashion is. It is my goal to help spread information about the harmful effects of textile waste and how it can be diverted.”

Isla Rindt, local student and Girl Scout

“The event is possible due to wonderful partnerships with community organizations, including San Diego Fix-It Clinic and Be Creative.Zone. We’re also delighted to have local professionals in the textile and clothing design industry get involved” explained Community Engagement Specialist Liz Davis. “And Solana Center volunteers help stretch our capabilities.”

The family-friendly event featured:

  • Interactive displays and activities about the environmental impact of landfilled textiles
  • San Diego Fix-It Clinic, with expert sewers to repair damaged clothing and textiles
  • Clothing Swap
  • Crafting for kids and adults with Be Creative.Zone
  • Creative upcycling ideas from local fashion designers including Erin Seelert of House
    of Hair and Glitter and Claudia Rodriguez-Biezunski, Chicana Fashion Designer and
    Owner of Sew Loka
  • A close-up look at an innovative textile recycling process that doesn’t use water,
    dyes or chemicals by Lynn Wagner of luna reFab, LLC
  • A chance to check out the world’s first biodegradable shoes by Blueview Footwear

Textile Facts

A shirt hanging from a tree with a statement on textile waste
Photo by Robin Fator
  • The average American throws away over 80 lbs of clothing annually
  • 95% of worn/torn textiles can be recycled
  • Only 15% is donated or recycled; the rest is landfilled
  • Like food, landfilled textiles release methane
  • Like plastics, we are sending our problem “away” to other countries
  • Textile industry is resource intensive – using water, energy, raw materials
  • Fast fashion is contributing to increased demand for new clothing – GHG footprint
  • grew by 23% from 2000 to 2015
  • Synthetics are toxic in waste streams and incineration
  • < 1% of clothes are made with recycled material and many are made of plastic derivatives

“The average American throws away over 80 pounds of clothing annually. Though 95% of worn and torn fabrics could be recycled, only 15% is actually donated or recycled. The rest is landfilled. This is an enormous problem that will be getting more and more attention.”

Executive Director Jessica Toth

Taking on Textiles Event Impact

The event collected 340 pounds of textiles from the community. Of that, 83% was diverted from being landfilled. The below charts show the breakout of incoming textiles as well as the diversion pathways.

photos by Robin Fator

Community Interest

100 attendees, staff, and volunteers were at the event. Attendees were asked about their interests. We found that the event’s goal was met, given the diverse responses. 44% of attendees brought clothing to swap or to repair. 38% of attendees were interested in general education, while 18% had interest in upcycling activities.

“Loved getting to talk and connect with everyone, the clothing swap had so many great
choices as well 🙂 Would love to see more natural dying techniques.”

Taking on Textile Waste event attendee

“I’m grateful to Solana Center for putting together an engaging event where community
members could not only learn about the impact of fast fashion on the environment, but
creative alternatives to textile waste.”

Taking on Textile Waste event attendee

photos by Ed Marsh

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