The average U.S. citizen will throw away 81 pounds of clothing this year when 95 percent of their pants, shirts and undergarments can be recycled or reused.
Upon uncovering this fact, global thrift retailer Savers stepped in and created the State of Reuse Report, a detailed analysis of clothing reuse perceptions and why people need more knowledge about apparel sustainability.
“As an organization committed to reuse, Savers felt compelled to identify barriers and clarify misconceptions around donating clothing and purchasing pre-owned goods,” Ken Alterman, chief executive officer, said.
Key findings of the report revealed that North Americans underestimate the amount of clothes they throw away each year. North Americans said they would be more likely to reuse clothing if they knew more about sustainability and U.S. citizens wanted to learn more about the environmental benefits of clothing reuse.
According to the report, 26 billion pounds of clothing go to landfills each year. This number accumulates, due to people genuinely not knowing how much clothing they waste. People claimed they threw away 4.7 bags of clothing each year when that number was more like 8.1 bags.
Unfortunately, North Americans misinterpret their “footprint” when it comes to clothing consumption and donation. Although two thirds of citizens donate to help those in need, one out of three people who didn’t donate threw away clothes because it was more convenient.
Misconceptions about clothing reuse and a desire for increased sustainability education were also expressed in the report. One of three North Americans didn’t know that more than 90 percent of textiles can be reused or recycled. Fifty percent of North Americans also said they would consider reusing clothes if they knew more about the environmental impact of textile manufacturing. Ninety-four percent of North Americans also said clothing reuse should be taught in schools to prevent future generations from wasteful habits.
“The insights garnered from the Savers State of Reuse Report point to the growing opportunity for the public and private sectors to work together to educate people about reducing clothing’s environmental footprint and drive the adoption of reuse,” said Alterman.