Love your stuff

Your decisions matter. Shop smart and love the stuff you have to reduce waste.

Reduce waste

Piles of clothing

Shopping smart and loving our stuff helps reduce waste. Society’s rapid cycle of buying and discarding clothing cannot be maintained. A full garbage truck amount of clothes is burned or landfilled every second. Because retail thrift stores get so many donations of varying quality, only around 50% of clothing received may be sold in the store. The rest are sent to other markets where they may be sold or discarded. 

Reduce the amount we waste to protect people and save the planet. 

  • Avoid fast fashion 
  • Wear your clothes longer 
  • Donate usable clothing in the right season 

Pledge to participate in the 7R’s of fashion and share your progress in reducing waste. #LoveYourStuffMPLS. 

Learn more about:

Love your stuff

People at sewing machines repairing clothes

Take pride in your clothes. They express our personalities, our creativity, our culture and history. Wear them with joy for as long as you can.

  • If they lose a button, sew it back on
  • Patch holes or tears in shirts and pants
  • Get items tailored to be your perfect fit

When your clothes no longer work for you, donate wearable clothes so they can be loved by someone else. Share photos and stories of your favorite, well-loved clothing items to #LoveYourStuffMPLS. 

 

Shop smart

Field of cotton

 

 

The textile industry requires a lot of resources and creates a lot of pollution.  

  • In Texas alone, 3.68 million acres are dedicated to growing cotton. That’s more than twice the size of Minnesota’s seven county metro area. 
  • It takes 700 gallons of water to produce one cotton t-shirt
  • Textile dyeing is the world’s second largest contributor to water pollution. 

Use your buying power to shop smart. Express accountability for clothing manufacturers when it comes to our health and that of the planet. #LoveYourStuffMPLS

 

Textile making (manufacturing)

The life cycle of clothes involves many steps, resources and a lot of transportation. Clothes can begin as cotton crops on a field or as plastic materials in a factory. These resources take large amounts of land, energy, chemicals, and water to produce. Materials are then shipped to another country to create thread. Textile workers sew the fabric into clothing. They often work in unsafe conditions with little pay. The finished clothes are then shipped around the world to stores. This results in large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. 

Fast fashion is an unsustainable business model. It creates “trendy” clothing made to be tossed out at a quick rate. This happens at the expense of textile workers' health and safety and the environment. The Love Your Stuff campaign aims to: 

  • Provide necessary information to understand the issues. 
  • Encourage your action to change the textile industry for the better. 

Read below to learn more. 

Textile making (Manufacturing)   

Shops and online stores boast an endless supply of new, trendy clothes. It can be difficult to consider the inputs and processes that go into making the clothes. Fashion companies have increased production. Before the 1990s they used to create 2 collections per year. Now some offer between 12 to 24 distinct collections (Source: Business Insider). This overproduction of clothing goes hand-in-hand with consumer purchasing spikes. It has been found that people bought 60% more garments in 2000 than 2014. People kept those items for only half as long (Source: Business Insider).  

  • It takes a lot of water to make clothes. To produce one cotton t-shirt almost 700 gallons of water is needed. Two thousand gallons of water is needed to produce a pair of jeans (Source: TED-edBusiness Insider). That’s enough water for 1 person to drink at least the recommended 8 cups per day for 3 and a half years. 
  • Cotton is a water intensive crop to grow. The recent increase in demand for clothing has already threatened our water supply. In 50 years, the Aral Sea in Asia (what used to be world's fourth largest lake) has dried up. It is almost entirely due to nearby cotton farming. (Source: Columbia UniversityNASA)
  • In Texas alone, cotton accounts for 3.68 million acres of land (Source: True Cost). Cotton also requires the most pesticide use than any other crop. Pesticides are toxic and threaten the health of farmworkers and local ecosystems (Source: The New York Times). Organic cotton does not use pesticides but is not popular. It currently makes up less than 1% of the cotton produced worldwide (Source: TED-ed).  
  • The fashion industry has a large carbon footprint. It releases almost 1.2 billion tons of carbon each year. This is 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions (Source: Business Insider).
  • To make clothing with cheap price tags major fashion brands cut corners. 
  • Companies contract factories who pay workers low wages and may not upkeep factories. This can be dangerous for their employees' health and safety. 
  • In 2013, the Rana Plaza textile factory did not follow building evacuation orders. When the building collapsed, more than 1,100 people died and another 2,500 were hurt in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 
  • Fashion brands are often not responsible for poor working conditions or treatment of employees. Textile factory workers, have a daily wage of less than $3 per day despite working long hours. Eighty five percent of workers are women and face physically abusive environments. This is especially true if they speak out about health and safety concerns in their work place. (Source: International Labour OrganizationTrue Cost).
  • Textiles create a lot of water pollution. 
  • Cloth dyeing is the world’s largest water polluter. It accounts for 20% of all industrial water pollution worldwide (Source: Business Insider). 
  • Contaminated water threatens ecosystems and wildlife. It can also harm drinking water sources for local communities (Natural Science).  
  • A lot of clothing is made of synthetic textile materials like polyester. The washing of these materials can be harmful. It can release 500,000 tons of microfibers into our oceans every year. About 35% of all ocean microplastics come from the laundering of synthetic clothing. (Source: Business Insider).

Disposal of textiles

Fast fashion floods the market with new clothing. These garments spend most of their time as unwanted trash. Almost 85% of all textiles are landfilled each year. The average American discards 82 pounds of textile waste every year. Fast fashion promotes constant purchasing and quicker waste generation to “stay on trend.” 

  • Most clothing items are blends of natural yarns, man-made filaments and plastics. This makes it difficult to recycle clothing. Currently, only 13.6% of clothing materials are recycled (Source: BBC).
  • These cheap products are made not to last and that makes it difficult to re-wear and reuse clothing. Donating our clothes can be good alternatives to trashing our clothing. Although, only 10% of what gets donated to thrift stores is actually sold (Source: True Cost). The amount of donations, seasonality of clothes and demand all determine what sells.
  • The rejects from thrift stores are often sent to other countries. 
  • This influx of clothes can hurt local textile industries from that country. (Source: True CostGreen America). 
  • It is unknown how many of the textiles shipped overseas are reused versus how many are disposed of as trash.

What you can do

Addressing environmental and associated health issues can be stressful for the everyday person. Especially, when large corporations must drive necessary major systematic change. The average person still has a role to take in reducing our impacts when it comes to textile waste. Your actions do matter. 

  • Use your buying power and express your concerns. Demand large systemic change from industries to address environmental issues. You’ve heard the phrase “vote with your dollar.” It applies when addressing the textile industry too.  
    • Do research and find brands that align with your values, support them with your business. This signals direct support for sustainable business models. It also shows indirect disapproval of irresponsible companies.  
    • Take it a step further and contact harmful industry leaders expressing your concern. Demand accountability.
  • Wash clothes less.Washing clothes more than necessary uses a lot of water and energy. It also pollutes water with non-degradable microplastics.  Re-wear your clothes between washes and only wash clothes when they need it 
  • Wear your clothes longer.Resist buying new clothes when they aren’t needed. Appreciate what it took to get the clothes in your closet and wear them for a long time. This disrupts the quick buy and throw fast fashion cycle. It can protect natural resources and people from the consequences of overproduction. Consider progressing your clothes from: 
    • wearable in public
    • wearable indoors
    • dust rag or washcloth if they have become too worn to donate.
  • Mend, stitch, hem, tailor your clothes.Have clothes with holes or that don’t fit right anymore? Don’t throw and re-buy. Consider mending your clothes yourself. Search online DIY tutorials or take them to a local professional. Make an appointment with Hennepin County’s virtual Fix-It Clinics to get help mending your own clothes.   
    • If you have clothes you no longer wear, donate or gift them to someone close. When donating clothes, pay attention to the season and the types of clothes donated. For example, heavy coats will be in higher demand in the winter as opposed to the summer. Optimize the clothes you donate to make sure they are actually reused. Otherwise you have not diverted any material from the trash. 
  • Shop /Buy Make sure to support reuse. Shop for gently-used clothing whenever you need a new clothing item for yourself or as a gift for another. You can visit in-person secondhand retail stores, boutiques or online reuse stores. You can also use social media marketplaces, or neighborhood Buy Nothing groups. Join in a clothing swap put on by your neighborhood, organization, or friend group. It’s a great way to gift the items from your closet that you may be tired of but someone else loves. You can gain new-to-you pieces as well.  

 

Three solid waste and recycling interns standing next to recycling and organics carts

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Contact us

Solid Waste & Recycling

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Phone

612-673-2917

Address

Eastside Maintenance Facility

2635 University Ave NE

Minneapolis, MN 55418

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Monday – Friday

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