White's Weaving: A new life for old denim
Rows and rows of jeans line every used clothing store and donation center in Indiana. The blue jean has become the standard American uniform, in part due to it's durability and versatility. The average American owns around 7 pairs of jeans and denim represents a $15.4 billion industry, according to The NPD Group/Consumer Tracking Service.
In the US, we throw away 12.4 million tons of textiles and footwear every year by EPA estimates; that's about 68 pounds per household. Only 1.3 million tons are recycled, as rags, paper, insulation, or even building materials.
It is encouraging to see efforts to reduce textile waste by getting more life out of America's favorite fabric. This just what Dean and Mary Ann White are doing with their weaving. At White's Weaving, they turn jeans bound for the landfill from Goodwill and Salvation Army into beautiful woven rugs. They cut the jeans into strips to prepare them, removing buttons and rivets, and make a variety of sizes of rugs at their business right in Paoli, Indiana. They also pick up used chenille bedspreads which wind up as attractive fuzzier rugs in a variety of soft pastels. You can get in touch with the Whites at 812-723-2326 to inquire about purchasing your own rugs or you can look for them at the Orleans Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.
Keeping textiles out of landfills isn't just good waste management, it also helps fight climate change: if everyone in the US recycled their clothing instead of tossing them in the trash, it would save 30.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year. Recycling just one pair of jeans has the impact of recycling 69 plastic water bottles. And that's an impact we'd be thrilled to stand on!