By Rebekah Ludman

With the three “R’s”, reduce, reuse and recycle becoming more of a topic of conversation, many fashion brands are starting their own recycling programs to help close the loop on fast fashion waste. Brands like H&M, Nike, and Marine Layer have all started programs to help recycle clothing and shoes. Each program has a different angle, but they all recycle textiles to help reduce the amount of waste and pollution the industry produces each year and the heavy burden it has on our environment.

In a fast growing era of textile recycling, you have so many options when it comes to purchasing recycled clothing. H&M started their garment collecting program in 2013. They accept any type of unwanted clothes and give a 15 percent discount card for every bag that is dropped off in their stores. Their whole purpose for starting this program is to have sustainable fashion in the future and reduce fashion pollution.

Nike started a program called GRIND that allows you to recycle your old, worn out shoes. According to Nike, GRIND is used in 71% of their shoes and clothing products. They don’t stop at using worn out shoes in their new clothing and footwear, they repurpose it to help build surfaces such as running tracks. Just like other companies, you can drop off your old shoes at any of their store locations.

California based Marine Layer, offers a program called ReSpun. With ReSpun, you can stay involved from start to finish. They offer a five dollar credit for every t-shirt that is brought to one of their locations. They use absolutely no additional material to make their new, soft tees. So far, they have been able to recycle 70,000 tees and make them into new colorful, stylish ones.

There are more and more brands starting to recycle clothing. So many others, like Koru Swimwear, are donating a portion of their revenues to environmental causes such as improving the health of our oceans.

These brands are a handful of companies leading the way to substantially lighten the footprint the fashion industry has on our planet..the planet’s number one polluter behind the oil industry. This direction is the ultimate goal for many of these brands. Others brands are beginning to start recycling programs offered at stores such as Levi’s, Lush, and Zara.

Fast fashion has become a problem as fashion trends quickly change. In order to keep up with the trends, many companies make inexpensive, petroleum based clothes, consumers feel they can just dispose of after a few uses. Most of the time, these clothes are thrown away and placed in landfills further perpetuating the problem.

According to World Resources Institute, one garbage truck full of clothes are either burned or sent to a landfill every second. This also impacts the environment due to the petroleum based textiles and non-organic natural fibers. Furthermore, the way in which these cheap clothes are produced is also problematic to environment such as the use of harsh dyes that end-up in our waterways or soil.

McKinsey & Company has reported that the amount of clothing that is purchased by the average customer has risen by 60 percent from 2000 to 2014. In addition to ever-changing trends, clothing lines are now released more frequently. Since production times have sped up, companies like Zara have released up to 24 collections a year.

Since fast fashion is becoming a bigger problem, it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to have recycling programs. Recycling clothes is easier now than it has ever been. It’s ultimately up the consumer to make changes in their purchase habits. The demand for fast fashion needs to be drastically reduced, but that starts with the consumer. By providing more options, fashion brands can point them in the right direction.