Here’s a stat that makes me sad: According to the American Textile Recycling Service, only 14.7 percent of textiles were recycled in 2018. This amounts to 2.5 million tons, which sounds like a lot, but if 2.5 million tons is 14.7 percent, that means there’s 14.5 million tons of textiles that aren’t recycled every year. That’s so much waste!
The photo shows 70% of our deadstock from our (relatively small) production run. YIKES!
Traditionally, there are two ways to repurpose “deadstock” (aka unused fabric): recycling and upcycling. In recycling, fabric can be sorted by color and then fed through a machine where it is broken down into fibers, re-spun, and reknit into a fabric. Unfortunately, the labor involved in textile recycling is cost-prohibitive in most places and just the cost to ship the deadstock to a recycling center would be thousands of dollars. Additionally, a lot of materials can’t be recycled. Fabric containing any elastic, spandex, or Lycra cannot be recycled with current technologies. Everyday Sabbatical clothing is made from a blend of bamboo, cotton and spandex and although the spandex is only 7%, it poses a unique challenge in finding sustainable solutions to address our fabric waste problem.
A better option for getting as much life out of our textile as possible is to upcycle them. In upcycling, deadstock fabric can be repurposed into a new clothing or other items that had new function. Upcycling fabric waste uses less energy but requires creativity and additional labor costs. We'll share some of our upcycled prototypes below and would love your feedback!