Recycling Fabric Waste and the NYC Garment District

Leftover Fabrics after Production

Leftover Fabrics after Production

Susanne Antonucci is an Environmental Consultant with a passion for creating a Recycling Program in the NY Garment District. The following information is a fraction of her knowledge and expertise.

NY Department of Sanitation has partnered with Housing Works to install re-fashioNYC bins all over NYC in an effort to achieve PlaNYC 2030 Solid Waste Goal of diverting 75% of the city’s waste from landfills.  Released in 2007, this plan is an unprecedented effort undertaken by former Mayor Bloomberg to help prepare the city for one million more residents, strengthen our economy, combat climate change and enhance the quality of life for all New Yorkers.

New York City’s Garment District is a 10 block, 100 year old, historic landmarked, ecosystem supporting a $30 million industry where designers can create collections and produce a finished product utilizing the district’s skilled workers and businesses for pattern making, marking, cutting, assembly and fabric selection. By interacting with their contractors, subcontractors and buying their supplies locally they can limit the amount of transport in their manufacturing, which is not possible if you are manufacturing overseas.  Even further waste reduction in the process of garment construction can have a large environmental, economic and social impact, such as recycling and repurposing textiles.  This could become second nature, like paper recycling; a common goal between the consumers, the companies and the producers.

Natural fibers such as wool, silk, linen, cotton, viscose and hemp can actually biodegrade in landfills by exposure to microorganisms that reside in the soil.  However, this process will not happen enclosed in plastic bags.  Most of the clothing in our wardrobes contain polyester, elastane or Lycra and other synthetic fibers (polyamide, acrylic, polypropylene) made from petrochemicals which are non-biodegradable.

More clothes are being bought than ever.  The Bureau of International Recycling, an industry advocacy group, claims that 2.2 lbs. of collected clothing or textiles can reduce up to 8 lbs. of CO2 emissions, eliminate the use of 1600 gallons of water, 10-1/2 ounces of fertilizer and 7 ounces of pesticide.  According to the most recently released figures from the EPA, Americans discarded 13.1 million tons of textiles clogging up an estimated 126 million cubic yards of landfill space and only 15 percent was reclaimed or recycled.

You and Your Company can Help!!

-support Made in NY by buying and supporting designers who produce in NYC

-resell your fabric to wholesalers like Mike Sokol of Marcorp Sales 212-382-2030.  They will warehouse your leftover fabrics and resell to fabric stores who sell to the next crop of young designers

-donate textiles to an arts center

-donate textiles to a school

-find a textile recycler

-get refashionNYC bins into Garment District buildings (During the first year of development, June 2011, 247,928 pounds of textiles (124 tons) were collected. The donations increased by an average of 4,167 lbs (2 tons) per month)

-look for clothing and accessories

-check out

-support  PlaNYC 2030 and the NYSD efforts to reduce the costs of collecting and managing our waste

-recycle clothing and textiles at your local green markets or put them in the many bins located around NYC

-It’s the Law to recycle if your company wastes more than 10% textiles

-check out 

-donate used clothes to stores and organizations who resell or redistribute them

-Schultze, Christopher, “Sustainable Innovation: Reducing Fashion’s Carbon Footprint. August 20, 2012. Accessed Web September 10, 2012. International Herald Tribune.  www.rendezvous.blogs.nytimes/2012/08/20/sustainable-innovation-reducing-fashion.

-Wallender, Mattias, “Why Textile Waste Should be Banned from Landfills.” January 2, 2012. Web. Accessed Web August 20, 2012. Triple Pundit. People, Planet, Profit.…/textile-waste-be-banned-landfill


Until next week!

Garbage Girl



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