BROOKLYN, N.Y. –– The fashion industry is one of the most wasteful in the world, according to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, so to help divert textiles from ending up in landfills, one group is sorting through tens of thousands of pounds of fabric – one by one – and keeping them for later use.
At FABSCRAP at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, co-founder Camille Tagle says there are 80,000 pounds of textiles ready to be organized by volunteers.
“For every one pound of post-consumer or residential waste, it’s estimated that 40 pounds were created upstream by that commercial entity, so that’s why we have a bit of a challenge on our hands,” Tagle said.
FABSCRAP is the only nonprofit working in commercial textile waste. In five years, it’s saved over 750,000 pounds of textiles from ending up in landfills by separating fibers that can be recycled and turned into insulation and by separating material that can be re-used and have an extended life.
Each volunteer has their own sorting station with specific labels and bins that correlate to what goes inside.
Sara Lukaszewski is a costume designer and it’s her first time at FABSCRAP.
“I’m sorting shred, cotton, polyester, denim, all types of fabrics so they can be recycled in different ways,” Lukaszewski said. “This is interesting what people dispose of, so I’m entertained, honestly. I’m looking at fabrics I’ve never seen this in my life, it’s cool.”
There’s also shopping involved after each session. Volunteers can chose any 5 lbs of free fabric to take home after doing their part for the environment.
“By diverting as much textiles as we can from landfill, that’s going to give us a more hopeful future and that’s going to help prevent climate change,” Tagle said.