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Innovative Campaign to Drive Textiles Reuse and Recycling

Date March 14, 2017 Author Lucy Robinson Categories Announcements | News


Since 1978 Recycling Council of Ontario’s commitment to the 3Rs has driven our actions, and is the bedrock of our efforts to facilitate the efficient use of resources to transition the economy from a linear to circular model where post-consumed materials are integrated back into use and production cycles.

We also have a long history of designing and executing high-profile educational and awareness campaigns that engages and empowers action on waste reduction and recycling. RCO’s mandate also requires us to continually identify opportunities to expand and improve resources that address disposal.

During Earth Week 2017 (April 24 – 28), Ontario secondary schools were challenged to Give A Sh!rt for the planet by organizing an in-school clothing drive for textiles reuse/rewear and recycling. A grand prize of $5,000 was awarded to the school that collects the most material per student during the challenge. Additional prizes were offered for efforts to take action on textile waste and rewear through community and social media engagement.

Textiles has become a topic of interest with growing industry and media attention being placed on sustainability: production impacts on the environment, significant growth of consumption rates, and the amount of material that is lost to disposal. There is also greater recognition directed to a growing reuse and rewear industry and the need to address a lack of recycling options.

With RCO’s experience and success with the Waste-Free Lunch Challenge and Plastic Bag Grab challenge, we know first-hand that schools appreciate opportunities to integrate environmental learnings through educational opportunities and hands-on activities. Class offerings also provide more variety, which includes business, design, fashion, media arts, and environmental electives. With sustainability and climate change at peak awareness we can engage students enthusiastically with textiles reuse and recycling in new and creative ways.

For more information, as well as community engagement initiatives, visit



Quick Facts:

  • Globally, textile waste has increased dramatically due to the rise in clothing consumption and production: the number of new garments produced annually now exceeds 100 billion – double the amount compared to the year 2000. 
  • The World Bank estimates that textile dyeing and treatment contributes up to 17-20 per cent of total industrial water pollution.
  • Production of new garments requires approximately one third of the world’s water resources.
  • 1 trillion kilowatt hours are used every year by the global textile industry, which equals 10 per cent of the total carbon impact.




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