When we think of environmental conservation and protection, our first thoughts are likely focused on reducing carbon emissions, using fewer plastics, and conserving water. However, what’s often forgotten is the impact of gear that is no longer in use. This gear often goes to landfills where it contributes to the growth of landfills. It’s important to understand the impact our gear has, and how keeping it out of landfills can make a difference in protecting our environment.
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Keeping clothes, shoes, and gear out of landfills helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. When we throw these items in landfills, they decompose and emit methane⎯a potent greenhouse gas. Methane is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide and its release into the atmosphere can contribute to climate change. By keeping these items out of landfills, we can reduce the amount of methane and other greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere and lower our carbon footprint.
Impact on Soil and Water
Another impact these items have on landfills is soil and water. Clothes and shoes often contain chemicals and synthetic fibers that can leak into the water supply. As these chemicals move into soil and water, it can have a severe impact on our health. Also, when clothes and shoes decompose, they release a toxic liquid called leachate that can pollute the groundwater and nearby streams, eventually ending up in the ocean. By reducing the amount of clothes and shoes in landfills, we can ensure that our waterways and soil remain clean and safe for us and wildlife.
By keeping these items out of landfills is that it conserves resources. The clothing industry consumes vast amounts of resources, including raw materials, water, energy, and chemicals in the production process, so by recycling and reusing these items, we can conserve resources and reduce the amount of pollution caused by the production of new clothes or shoes.
Reducing waste is essential to humans, animals, the environment, among other things. Recycling and reusing clothes, shoes, and gear removes them from the waste stream and reduces the burden on already overflowing landfills. According to RoadRunner, here are some surprising facts about textile waste:
- The average US consumer throws away approximately 81.5 pounds of clothes annually, leading to an estimated 11.3 million tons of textile waste in America alone.
- In 2018, 17 million tons of textile waste ended up in landfills, according to data from the Environmental Protection Agency, making up 5.8 percent of the total MSW generation that year.
- According to the World Resources Institute, it takes 2,700 liters of water to make one cotton shirt.
- Textiles can take up to 200+ years to decompose in landfills.
Upcycling is the process of turning old, unwanted items into something new and useful. It’s a fun and creative way to give old gear a new lease on life and a sustainable way to reduce waste.
Three Companies That Are Keeping Gear Out Of Landfills
1. The North Face Renewed Take-Back
The North Face will refurbish your old gear to be resold, and if it can’t be repaired, they’ll recycle or donate it as part of their commitment to circularity. Learn more here.
Patagonia will accept any of their products to be recycled. You can mail the item or drop it off at your local Patagonia store. Learn more here.
3. Rainy Pass Repair
Rainy Pass Repair has a lot of experience in repairing and restoring down garments. Learn more about the gear they fix here.
Keeping gear out of landfills is important for the environment, the economy, and our future. We must work to reduce waste through recycling, reusing, and upcycling. By doing so, we can help to reduce pollution, create new opportunities for businesses, and preserve our planet for future generations. Remember, every little bit counts and together we can make a difference!