Picture all the clothes you’ve bought in the last year. Or decade. Even your lifetime. Some stayed in your closet rotation, others were donated, and a few may have ended up in the trash can after too many stains, rips, tears, and missing buttons.
That clothing trash — duplicated in every household — adds up.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency measured the amount of discarded clothing and textile materials generated from 1960 until 2018.
Across half a century, the number of textiles that ended up in landfills leapt drastically up from 1.7 million tons to 11.3 million tons. And that number only keeps growing.
Reclypt is a New York City-based business that strives to educate consumers on circular fashion, diminish waste through upcycling, and bring fashion lovers and activists together at clothing swaps.
Recylpt first started as a fashion marketplace for upcycled fashion, selling upcycled clothing from other small businesses. Then over time, Ceruti began joining forces with friends and community partners to teach mending basics like sewing, embroidering, embellishing, and repairing clothes.
“At Reclypt, we believe style lasts longer with community,” Ceruti said in an interview with CanvasRebel Magazine this past June. “The Reclypt community is the driving force behind everything we do; from the upcycled fashion community to the DIY repair community.”
Thus, Reclypt’s Mending Club was born. These days, the Mending Club takes on many forms, gathering all over New York City at pop-up happy hours and skill-sharing spaces.
“This can look like a ‘mending 101’ class at a cafe in Brooklyn, an ‘upcycling workshop’ at a Venture Capital firm in Manhattan, a ‘swap and mend’ event for a local runners group, or a clothing swap at a vintage store in Queens,” Ceruti told CanvasRebel.
Ceruti knows it can be hard not to feel defeated about the state of clothing waste. Fast fashion, cheap clothing, and a diminishing second-hand clothing market can make it difficult to feel confident about ethical consumption.
“I see you out there, thrifting, donating, re-selling. It’s all well and good, but all of that ends up in landfills.” Ceruti explained in an Instagram video last summer. “There are just too many clothes. It’s estimated that 20% of clothes are never worn.”
The circular fashion economy is built to offset waste and pollution.
In addition to creating a constant flood of clothing waste, the fashion is also responsible for up to 10% of global pollution, according to the article “The Environmental Price of Fast Fashion” published by Nature Reviews Earth & Environment.
The article also estimated that the fashion industry is only second to aviation as the largest industrial polluter in the world and consumes 1.5 trillion liters of water a year.
Issues like these drive Ceruti to inform the public and strive towards a “Circular Fashion Economy.”
For decades, fashion has been made from synthetic materials, designed and produced, sold and worn, and shipped off to decompose for up to 200 years. As Ceruti pointed out, even donated materials are at risk of ending up in landfills.
In a circular fashion economy, clothes are created sustainably through material sourcing like unused “deadstock” fabric from warehouses and recycled clothing. Circular fashion is designed to last longer and be mended when needed. At the end of its use, the clothes are repaired, re-sold, or exchanged again.
Reclypt’s growing success can be attributed to its dedication to accessibility, forming community partnerships, and practicing transparency when it comes to compensating mentors and panelists fairly.
The Mending Club helps people look at thrifting and clothes shopping in a new light. And the love is spreading.
“Such a fun day!!! Swap til ya drop!” Instagram user @indigostylevintage exclaimed on a post about a swap meet-up in Brooklyn.
“I am so ready to spend the day surrounded by green life and community,” another commenter, @sincerelytri, said beneath a post advertising an upcycling event in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
“Wow, I absolutely love seeing this,” user @recycle2riches commented on a recent Instagram video of a Mending Club montage. “Keep going!”
Header image courtesy of Reclypt