Recycled Clothing

*Dr. Pooja Singh and **Deepak Sharma

“Think outside the trash… Recycle”

The word “Recycling” means the process of translating waste materials into new products or we can say it is an alternative to conventional waste disposal. Through this, the material can be saved as well as aid to lower greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, recycling stops the waste of potentially beneficial materials and resultantly condenses the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing the use of energy, and air and water pollution.

So, come back to our topic i.e., “Recycled Clothing” itself explains that it is the clothing that involved recovering old wear for segregating and processing. Later the end products include clothing suitable for reuse.

In order to create huge profits, the fashion industry produces larger volumes of clothing at a faster pace which leads to lower quality and a horrendous amount of clothing waste. The process does not stop here, clothing consumption also produces leftovers. All this is due to the habit of fast fashion by the consumers which result in overconsumption and especially the disposable mindset of consumers that resultantly increases clothing waste. Before proceeding further, it is very important to get knowledge regarding the recycling process of clothing.


There are various strategies used by clothing recyclers for picking up old clothing i.e. from bins usually placed in public places like parking lots at shopping malls and business centers, from clothing drives as well as the door-to-door collection was also done. To collect the clothing through bins, colorful bins are placed in high-traffic areas and high-visibility sites in order to maximize the donation of clothing products.


After the process of collection, clothing is divided into three groups i.e. Reuse, Rags, and Fiber. This is a completely manual process of sorting that requires proficiency in categorizing various types of clothing material. The method can be assisted by conveyor belts and bins to separate various grades of material. As soon as the sorting is completed, recyclers are used to report that about half of contributed garments can be reused. Some recyclers bale the collected clothing for export to developing countries by keeping some garments for domestic sale in thrift outlets. Later, clothing may be condensed to the fibrous material.


Sorted fabric and clothing commonly consist of composites of cotton and synthetic material. The method of recycling will definitely be influenced by the composition of the material. So, for natural textiles, materials are sorted on the basis of color. Segregation according to colors, eliminated the need for re-dying along with dropping the need for pollutants and energy. After this, the clothing is torn into disordered fibers and joint with other selected fibers according to the end-users of the recycled fiber.  As soon as the cleaning and spinning are over, fibers can be compressed for usage in mattress making. Now, there comes a turn of polyester-based materials, for this recycling process works a little bit differently. In such cases, firstly, zippers and buttons are removed. Secondly, clothing is cut into smaller pieces. These torn small fabrics are then coursed and shaped into bits.  

Costs Now, the most important factor i.e., “cost” should be considered. So, get relieved, such materials cost less in comparison to regular clothing because of course regular clothing expenses are incurred in consuming raw materials. Clothing made from natural fibers has a high carbon footprint for the reason that of the energy required to bring these materials to market. On the other hand, in the case of recycled clothing, the material had a ready supply. So, due to these factors, such materials are more affordable.

Environmental Impacts

Regular clothing contributes to pollution to some extent and if made of man-made fibers then environmentally expensive also. During the production process, petroleum was used as a raw material. This results in an increase in energy usage as well as greenhouse emanations. Recycled clothing, is a solution that removes the requirement of petroleum as raw material and therefore offers a supplementary eco-friendly substitute.


Both regular and recycled materials can be repurposed into innovative clothing. The only difference is the type of fabric. Even clothing that shows signs of heavy wear can still be recycled. Recycling of clothing involves recovering old clothing for sorting and processing. End products comprise clothing appropriate for reuse, cloth leftovers or bits as well as fibrous material. Interest in garment recycling is quickly on the upsurge due to environmental consciousness and landfill pressure. It offers a business opportunity for businesspersons.

So, after explaining the complete recycling process along with its pros I request each and every person to please think out of the box and increase public awareness with information about the importance and profits of donating used clothing material. To create awareness regarding recycled clothing, recycling companies frequently offer educational materials on their websites concerning garment recycling along with its importance and also mention the items they except for the recycling process.

“Recycling is a good thing to do. It makes people feel good to do it. The thing I want to emphasize is the vast difference between recycling for the purpose of feeling good and recycling for the purpose of solving the trash problem.”

Barry Commoner

So, this is the need of an hour to stop exploiting the new resources and start recycling in order to cater to the need of each and every individual. In this way, our coming generations will also enjoy this wealth of resources and thus reduces the trash problem.

Authors Bio:

*Dr. Pooja Singh and **Deepak Sharma

Faculty- Fashion Design Department, FDDI- Footwear Design and Development Institute, Chandigarh (Banur) Campus, An Institution of National Importance, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Govt. of India, District SAS Nagar (Mohali), Punjab-140601.

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