Recommended, 2024

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Does clothes recycling really make sense?

The moderator team of "Xenius" is trying out the clothing recycling at Reutlingen University itself.
Photo: Screeshot / Arte Xenius

Will my old favorite shirt really be a new one?

Businesses like H & M are tempted by the promise: to donate old clothes, have them recycled and receive a voucher. The documentary "Clothes Recycling: Humbug or sensible?" asks: is that even possible? The answer is more than clear.

"Too bad to throw away, " says the H & M website. The call: bring back old clothes and skim off discount vouchers. Other shops also offer the old-give-new-buy-principle. Sounds great, what is not worn anyway, is recycled to new clothes and less garbage is created. But is that even possible?

The 25-minute Arte documentary " Clothes Recycling - Humbug or Meaningful?" goes exactly to this question. And after only a few minutes it becomes clear: No, it is not possible. From the colorful mixture of materials, little more can be made than cloths, paints fleece or filling for car seats. An old favorite T-shirt that will become a new favorite T-shirt? A misbelief. Not recycling, but downcycling is the case.

Another problem: The clothes are full of seams, buttons, zippers and labels that come with the shredder. The result: The fibers are too short, uneven and can not be spun into a new thread. Even the substances that come directly from the manufacturing process as blends could not be further processed to a new yarn without the addition of new cotton fibers.

The bottom line: clothes recycling is theoretically possible, but would be economic nonsense. Buttons & Co. would have to be removed, the clothes before the process according to colors and Matieralien be sorted. A huge effort! The better alternative: Conscious consumption, pay attention to quality and would rather change a piece of clothing than throw it in the bin.

The video also comes up with another idea: