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Where do dead clothes go?

Kerber - Silk top and skirt fw15

It all starts in the store

If you think of it, during a day, we have a huge amount of choices when we are shopping. And everything is about this:

  • How we buy what we need
  • How we use and maintain what we have bought
  • How we get rid of what we have, when we can no longer use it

In 2013, there where produced as much as 85,4 million tons of textile fibers worldwide, and the number increases dramatically each year. So every move we do as consumers helps. From which fabric you choose to begin with when you buy something new, to how you wash it, and how you get rid of it in the end. A great way to start is to think about it at the store.

 

If you choose a non-biodegradable textile like polyester, spandex, nylon, and rayon, and it does not have a good recycling system, it will end up on landfills and can take from 20 to 200 years to fully biodegrade. We know that sometimes we love those products we find in the wrong materials, and sometimes it is better to choose a pant in polyester than in cotton because it may last much longer with wear and tear, but off course the best thing would be both at once.

 

landfills are growing.
landfills are growing.

 

Composting biodegradble textiles

We are making a series of blog-posts about where you can put things that die, telling you how to reuse/recycle /up-cycle them, and how to get rid of them in the end. Today we will talk about organic matter and how long it takes for them to biodegrade. It is the easiest textile to biodegrade, but it still needs to be put in the right environment though!

Choose ecological, and you can be sure that the whole process is without chemicals, also what ends up in your garden or on your plants. Coloured materials are OK to compost, but sometimes they can contain small amounts of chemicals if they are not coloured in an organic way.

 

Cotton

Cotton is one of the easiest textiles to biodegrade, especially if it is 100 % cotton. In a compost bin, it can biodegrade as fast as in a week, but also as long as 5 months.

Wool

Wool normally biodegrade in the course of a year, but can also take up to 5 years to biodegrade, depending on the tratment and type of wool.

black rat black unisex kim pants - 100 % wool jersey pants with a comfortable fit
black rat black unisex kim pants – 100 % wool jersey pants with a comfortable fit

Bamboo

Less than a year, sometimes a little more.

black rat bamboo female t-shirt, shown on model
black rat bamboo female t-shirt, shown on model

 

Linen

Also easy to brake down in to soil. It can take as short as two weeks to 6 months.

Apollonius - from AW14 collection lookbook - linen shirt
Apollonius – from AW14 collection lookbook – linen shirt

 

Hemp

Is a plantmaterial, usually not processed the way some of the materials mentioned above are. In most cases it uses really short amount of time to biodegrade, around a week to a month.

nosleepuntiljune aspectabund shirt in grey-blue
nosleepuntiljune aspectabund shirt in grey-blue, hemp and organic cotton

 

Silk

Up to a year, but sometimes longer.

Kerber - image header fw15
Kerber – fw15, 100 % silktop and silk skirt

 Composting process – how to do it!

 

Making a compost bin

If you have room for it, you could make your own compost bin, and your clothes can in time become natural fertilizer for you garden. A simpe search on Pinterest got us all these different ways to build your own compost bin. Big or small garden, you will find a DIY guide here.

 

compost bin where your biodegradable matter becomes food for your garden
compost bin where your biodegradable matter becomes food for your garden

Making an indoor compost bin

Many of us don’t have a garden, but the good news are that it is possible to make it work indoors as well!

We added an infographic from Ecowatch, but also check out this great guide from Forbes on how to make your own indoor compost bin in a small appartment.

 

how to make a small compost bin in your apprtment, source www.ecowatch.com
how to make a small compost bin in your apprtment, source www.ecowatch.com

 

Preparing the textiles for composting

  • Shred your clothes first. It is important to cut your clothes into smaller pieces, especially heavier fabrics like wool, to allow them to compost better.
  • Remove non-biodegradable materials like plastic or metal buttons and zippers before composting.
  • Make sure you add them to the bin alongside fresher, wetter items, don’t overwhelm your compost heap with old clothes – no more than 25% at a time.

You are ready for composting!

Follow our Composting-board on Pinterest to get our finds as we investigate further.