Millions of kilograms of clothing clog up BC landfills

Millions of kilograms of clothing clog up BC landfills

WATCH: Too many textiles are ending up in the trash and all that clothing is clogging local landfills. Tess van Straaten looks at the problem and what can be done.

Thrift Stores are a great place to score a good deal on clothing.

“All children’s items are a dollar today, which is amazing, so I got four really nice jackets for my granddaughter,” says bargain hunter Marty Power outside the Salvation Army store in Quadra Village.

Gently-used items, and sometimes things with the tags still on, get donated to the store every day.

“It benefits the people that are maybe in need and can’t afford those, it also prolongs the life of the textiles and avoids them from going back into the landfill,” the Salvation Army’s Patricia Mamic says.

But all too often, textiles end up in the trash.

And all the clothing is clogging up British Columbia landfills.

Tens of millions of kilograms are ending up in landfills — a staggering 20 million kilos in Vancouver alone.

In the Capital Regional District, it works out to about 21 kilograms per person or almost 6 per cent of overall waste.

Despite more environmental awareness and an increased focus on reducing, reusing and recycling, the CRD says the total amount of textile waste in Greater Victoria has remained relatively unchanged for the last two decades.

There’s one reason for that — not just here but across North America.

Fast fashion, which is cheap to buy and gets tossed in the garbage, is to blame.

“Fast fashion retailers, their business model is the problem,” explains Claudia Marseilles, who heads up the waste program in Markham, Ontario.

“They’re making too much, they’re making it too cheap and it’s disposable clothing.”

It’s so disposable, Canadians are buying about three times as much clothing compared to the the 1980s.

It’s estimated 85 per cent is ending up in the trash.

“There’s no real need to put them in the garbage can,” says Mamic. “Even items that are worn can be used for rags or they could be given to our shelters. There is always a need.”

If it’s functional in any way, charities say they can find a use for it — or sell it to recycling organizations — turning trash into treasure.

Tess van StraatenTess van Straaten

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