This April 22, Earth Day will once again provide us all an excellent opportunity to reflect on our consumption habits. It's a day when some of us may decide to start using earth friendly cleaning or beauty products, adopt reusable bags for our shopping trips, or drive less. But most of us still don't realize that some of the most egregious environmental damage we do starts in our closets. Clothing and textiles have a huge impact on the environment.
According to the EPA, Americans consume a whopping 65 pounds of new clothes per person each year. That's a huge amount of clothing for each individual. And when the new comes in, the old must go out. Americans create approximately 12.4 million pounds of textile waste each year, which adds up to 177 pounds of waste per household per year. When it gets discarded, about 85 percent of it goes directly into landfills.
That's a shame, since 100 percent of all textiles and used clothing, no matter how outdated or shoddy, can be reused or recycled in some way. This Earth Day, let's recognize that just because a piece of clothing is unwearable, out of style, or stained, it shouldn't go in the garbage.
Call it the Not One Sock Pledge -- a pledge to avoid dumping your old clothing in the garbage -- not old sheets or towels, not your acid washed jeans -- not one single sock. Take the Not One Sock Pledge and do your part to keep textiles out of landfills from this Earth Day to the next.
There are tons of ways to reuse and recycle clothes and textiles. For items like ripped sheets, or old towels, and single socks you may not even realize there are other options besides the trash. For instance, many animal shelters will take used bedding of any kind to make beds for animals. You can always cut up old T-shirt to use for rags -- saving clothes and paper towels from landfills. Use old jeans to patch up and mend other items of clothing. Put fabric aside for use in crafts projects. Give some of your really out of style pieces in the dress up bin of your favorite little kid. Host a clothing swap with your friends.
And while donating them to charity is of course a great option -- that's recycling too, after all -- most of us don't have time to research a good cause and arrange for a pickup or drop off, no matter how altruistic we like to consider ourselves.
At USAgain we're asking people to take the Not One Sock Pledge with our Earth Month Contests. We are challenging U.S. schools to collect as many pounds of clothing as they can during the month of April. The top three schools will be rewarded cash prizes. Also, USAgain is aiming to collect six million pounds of clothing during the month of April. So take the Not One Sock Pledge and see if you can commit to one year of not throwing any single textile in the trash this year.