The average American throws away 81 pounds of textiles each year

The average American throws away 81 pounds of textiles each year

US outdoor apparel and footwear specialist Columbia Sportswear is expanding its ReThreads clothing recycling programme to all of its US stores following a successful trial over the past year.

The initiative will roll out to more than 100 Columbia stores to help consumers recycle used clothing and footwear.

"The issue of clothing ending up in landfills is a significant problem, and we want do our part to help conserve our material resources and reduce our collective carbon footprint," says Columbia senior global corporate relations manager, Scott Welch.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency's website, Americans discarded over 32 billion pounds of clothing, shoes and other textiles in 2014, accounting for over 6% of the municipal waste stream.

With the average American throwing away 81 pounds of textiles per year, the Columbia ReThreads programme aims to reduce this amount and impact by asking people to drop off garments, outerwear, and footwear (in clean, dry condition) at each of their store locations.

According to the EPA's website, programs like ReThreads help keep these items out of the landfill and contribute to the over 5 billion pounds of consumer textile waste being reused or recycled each day.

For the first month of the national programme, Columbia has pledged to make a $1 financial contribution to a non-profit organisation for every pound of clothing that is recycled and kept out of landfills. Beneficiaries are the American Hiking Society, the National Park Foundation, and the Children and Nature Network.

After garments and footwear are dropped in the ReThreads bins in each Columbia store, they are sent to a processing facility through I:CO, a textile recycling solutions company whose name stands for I:Collect.

Items that are still re-wearable are sold as second-hand goods through I:CO's network. Unwearable items are reused for products like cleaning cloths or recycled into fibers for products such as insulation and new fabrics.

Through its retail take-back system and worldwide infrastructure, I:CO aims to keep these items in a closed loop cycle to be reused again to reduce waste and protect the environment.