City of Brandon Joining Forces with Diabetes Canada to Divert Textiles

Connector Summer 2018

A new pilot project coming to Brandon, Manitoba, is encouraging people to divert unwanted fabrics, textiles, and plush toys from the dump and toward special bins or thrift stores instead.

The city is one of several municipalities that have signed on to a research study led by Diabetes Canada and York University, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving water, and extending the lives of landfills.

Diabetes Canada has been operating a textile collection program for more than 30 years, gathering items left inside bins placed around many Canadian cities and through doorstep pickup.

The goal of the study is to identify ways to increase the recovery of textiles by educating people and encouraging them to divert them from landfill.

According to researchers, approximately 80 billion new items of clothing are produced worldwide every year, and most of those items eventually end up in the garbage at their end of life. The process to create a single pair of jeans requires 1,800 gallons of water, from cotton plant to final product, said Lindsay Hargreaves, environmental initiatives coordinator for the City of Brandon. A T-shirt takes 700 gallons.

The average Canadian purchases 70 new articles of clothing a year, contributing to the 12 million tonnes of annual textile waste. The reason much of it is thrown away is because it is cheaply made, said Hargreaves. “North America is like a fast-food fashion society,” she said.

However, nearly 95 per cent of all textiles donated can be reworn, recycled, repurposed, or reused. Textiles are turned into insulation, painter’s cloths, tiles, carpets, and even countertops, among other products.

The pilot project, which is expected to start this Fall and will run about two years, will see 20 of the Diabetes Canada bins in Brandon rebranded to say the city is involved in the textile diversion program. The bins, most of which are currently on private property, will then be moved onto city property to make them more accessible.

The rebranding will help raise awareness among the public about the project and the value of donating those types of goods, Hargreaves said.

Locations of bins in the city can be found through the Diabetes Canada website.

An awareness campaign about the pilot project will be launched soon and the public is encouraged to visit the website for the Brandon Environment Committee for more information.

Once the pilot project is underway, the website will also contain regularly updated information, provided by York University, on greenhouse gas emissions reduced, water saved and the amount of textiles collected and diverted from landfills.

Source: CBC News