Clothing Waste Prevention

While end of life diversion (such as donation to thrift shops) and reduction of waste and toxicity upstream at the production end are important, our work is focusing on waste prevention opportunities at the retailer-consumer level.  In this context, a programmatic focus on preventing clothing waste from entering both the recycling and disposal streams could have a positive impact on Seattle/King County goals and activities concerning materials management, resource conservation, sustainable consumption, climate change and local economic development.

The King County Link-Up Program and Seattle Solid Waste Utility engaged Full Circle (under prime C+C) to identify agencies, businesses, NGOs, and other institutions involved in clothing waste prevention activities. Full Circle undertook desktop research and analysis, as well as direct interviews with key international stakeholders, to gather current information, identify significant players, and begin to frame a path forward for local action. Efforts are currently underway to build off of the phase one findings, and will likely involve convening local stakeholders, such as the repair sector, the thrift and consignment sectors, the sharing economy, and many others. To date, a picture is emerging of a dynamic, growing awareness of, and interest in, the expanding stream of unwanted clothing and the need to do something beyond end-of-life management approaches such as disposal or simple donation/reuse.