There are different wastestreams that you can use when you're going into the recycling game. The easiest are the fibres and pieces of fabric lost in production. During spinning, dyeing and weaving of the yarns and cutting of the fabrics, waste is created. We use these wasted fibres to spin new yarns and weave them into fabrics. Using these kind of waste streams, lets us move towards a no-waste production process!
Post-Consumer Recycled Denim (PCRD) fibres are a bigger challenge. You need to shred the old denims until they are back to fluffy cotton like fibres. Shredded fibres tend to be shorter, so they are mixed with virgin (organic) cotton to guarantee a high-quality denim yarn and fabric. The challenge is that you need to guarantee a high cotton level in the collected jeans to create a strong fabric. You also need to take out all the metal parts before you can turn the jeans back into fibres.
One of the big problems of our current fashion industry is the waste streams during production and the big pile of unused and discarded clothing. About 1/3 of the clothing produced is never sold, not even in the sale and 73% of all - used or unused - clothing is burned or ends up in landfill. It is insane if you think about all the time, effort and resources that are now lying there, unused.
On top of that - synthetic - clothing decomposes really slowly, releasing greenhouse gasses in the process. The burning of our old clothing can produce energy, but it also releases greenhouse gasses and other hazardous substances. Time for a better alternative, right?
The biggest environmental impact of a product is hidden in the materials that are used. For every % of recycled fibres instead of virgin cotton, you lower the environmental impact. You do not need any land or any water to let the cotton grow, for instance, saving up to a couple of hunderd litres of water per jeans.
To make yarn, fabric or old denim into fibres, you need to shred it into pieces. Sounds energy-intensive, but you'll still save CO2 compared to virgin - organic - cotton. The earth thanks you!
If we want to create a future proof industry we have to think circular. Fashion is a highly resource-dependent industry that creates a lot of waste. In the process and at the end-of-life. By thinking circular, we can work towards an industry that the earth can handle. Recycling is only a part of circular thinking and you can also do your part, follow these principles:
Rethink - revalue your clothes
Reduce - focus on quality and durability
Research - learn to take care of your clothes
Repair - mend your clothes and extend their life
Reuse - give clothing a second, third or fourth life
Repurpose - help to recycle, dispose correctly
Recycle - buy recycled products