Make the world a cleaner place with Textile Diversion Day

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: ISTOCK (MAKIDOTVN)
Textile Diversion Day gives students a chance to clean out their closets while helping the environment and the community

Two members of Fanshawe’s fashion design faculty want to help students clear out their closets before moving out at the end of the term.

Jennifer Wright and Meredith Jones, both fashion design professors, have organized the College’s first-ever Textile Diversion Day on April 17 and 18. The two-day event will help the Fanshawe community think more carefully about their fashion consumption and disposal choices.

Three blue bins from Goodwill Industries will be set up in F hallway, each one for clothing made of a certain material: cotton, polyester, and blended fibre. Students, staff and faculty are encouraged to sort their donations into each bin while learning about the environmental cost of each fabric.

“If your cotton does end up in the landfill, it might take two years to degrade. If it’s polyester, it’s 200 years,” Wright told Interrobang. “We want to talk about the impact of how the fibre is produced, and how it’s disposed of.”

Apart from educating donors, Textile Diversion Day will also support local charity when Goodwill Industries collects the clothing and finds a practical use for each piece.

“Goodwill can sort and find a way to redirect anything, whether it’s soiled, dirty, ripped, pilled, stained,” Wright said. “It might not go their stores, but they will divert it so that it does not go into the landfill.”

Almost any material, except for furniture, can be collected; even shoes, in singles or in pairs.

According to a poster promoting the event, the fashion industry is the second highest polluter in the world, with the average person putting up to 68 lbs of clothing and textiles into the garbage each year. It also mentions that 11 per cent of landfills are composed of textile waste, while 99 per cent of clothing can be reused or recycled in some way.

“A lot of materials are made by plastic, and we all know what plastic does to the environment,” Fanshawe’s sustainability co-ordinator, Michelle Cong, said when asked about the importance of Textile Diversion Day. “The awareness of textile diversion is a huge benefit for the environment.”

“Not many people know plastic waste is in clothing,” Jones added. “We need to start making those connections, and that needs to be part of your holistic approach.”

Students from the School of Design and Lawrence Kinlin School of Business will help at the event to sort clothes into the proper bins. They will also deliver a survey gauging donors’ knowledge of the social and environmental impact of shopping for clothing.

The survey data will be put towards Wright’s and Jones’ ongoing research project, “Poorly Made Shirt Workers (PMSW): a social solution for integration into the Canadian workforce”. The collected information will help them figure out how they can influence people to change their shopping habits.

“It’s important to think about your clothing purchase habits for sure, but certainly you need to donate them so that the value of that clothing can be used for a benefit in your community,” Jones said. “That’s really the bottom line.”

Textile Diversion Day takes place on April 17-18 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., in F hallway, across from the bookstore.