In her recent Transition Town column (“Cheap clothes have human, environmental costs,” October 2020), Karen Lilley offered readers some excellent advice on how to be a responsible clothing consumer, including recycling their wardrobes whenever possible.
Unfortunately, although both Ramsey and Hennepin Counties used to offer textile recycling programs, Hennepin County suspended its program in December 2019 and Ramsey County followed suit in March 2020.
As a wardrobe consultant who specializes in building sustainable wardrobes, I regularly recommended these services to clients who were purging clothing they were no longer wearing, because donation centers are inundated with clothing they can’t sell.
Both counties cited the lack of transparency from the vendor for recycled textiles regarding their end market. Meaning that much of what is “recycled” goes overseas to become someone else’s solid waste issue. I agree that this outcome is unfeasible, but that shouldn’t mean abandoning the program.
Currently, neither county intends to reinstate its textile recycling program. But if textile recycling remains disbanded, an already significant solid waste issue will be further exacerbated. And the chance of growing the recycling market is eliminated altogether.
I urge Ramsey and Hennepin counties, as well as the other metro counties, to consider creating a local end market for recycled textiles. Municipalities and their industry partners should work together to offer a feasible system for recycling textiles rather than leaving it to swamp donation centers and worse yet, landfills.
St. Anthony Park