In the era of cheap clothing, Canadians are buying on average 70 new pieces of clothing annually, according to a CBC Marketplace documentary that aired January 2018. Increased consumption is leading to increased waste. A March 2018 study, Unravelling the Problem of Apparel Waste in the Greater Vancouver Area, says that as of 2015, Canadians disposed of 500,000 metric tonnes of clothing annually, while people in BC collectively tossed out 40,000 metric tonnes, half of which was generated by Vancouverites. In response, Vancouver has implemented a 2040 Zero Waste Strategy Plan that includes zero textile waste.
Many people donate their clothing to the second-hand store chain, Value Village. What people often don’t know is that their donations do not have to be in perfect condition. A Value Village survey reported that over 50 per cent of respondents said that they threw away clothing because they were unsure whether the organization would accept it or not. The company accepts clothing that can’t be sold as-is, and pays other charities to bring in clothing (even damaged clothing) for processing. You can find a directory of other clothing recyclers in your area that accept torn clothing on websites like earth911.com.
Tatyana Mikhailova, a front-end sales supervisor at Value Village, says that clothing that is unable to be sold is sent to overseas companies that may want to use the fabrics for the production of their merchandise. According to smartasn.org, your worn or torn clothing may become insulation for a car or most commonly become carpet.
Value Village and similar stores are a good option, but if you’re still attached to that ripped T-shirt or torn jeans, there are other options. Local organizations such as Repair Matters and the Vancouver Fix-It Collective host events to teach people how to repair items, including worn clothing.