A  report from the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA revealed that over 15 million tons of textiles were dumped in landfills in 2015 alone. Of all these, less than 15% were recyclable, and around 30% were biodegradable or in simple terms, organic.

Environmentalist and economists have collaborated to try and help each other figure out the long term financial and health effects of these stats. Although environmentalists were successful in doing this, the story was different for economists because it was difficult to ascertain the financial impact of these activities.


One of the effects caused by non-eco-friendly clothing in landfills is global warming. How does that happen, you may ask? When clothes decompose, they release a gas called methane. On the surface, methane is not a harmful gas, but it is flammable.  Methane is one of those gases that are known to cause the greenhouse effect which in turn is the chief catalyst for global warming.

When methane is released from the decomposition of non-eco-friendly clothing, it is carried by air into the atmosphere. In the atmosphere, it reacts with oxygen to form azines which react with ozone in the ozone layer breaking it down. When the ozone layer breaks down, dangerous and hot rays of the sun are allowed access into the earth’s atmosphere eventually causing a global increase in temperature which leads to a high prevalence of skin cancer.


Apart from Global warming, non-eco-friendly clothing are said to contain many different chemical compounds. When such clothes are dumped in large amounts and begin to break down, the chemicals will begin to lose their grip off of the clothes. Eventually when rainfall occurs, the following two events will occur:

  • Runoff
  • Leaching

When it rains, the chemicals from the non-eco-friendly clothing will be leached into the soil destroying all soil organisms along the way and eventually end up contaminating underground water. Some of the chemicals will be eroded and flow together with the water ending up in river streams and lakes, in turn, destroying aquatic life and contaminating our drinking water.

We can try to justify this by saying the water is purified, yes it is, but it may still be contaminated, why? Because most chemicals used in clothes are dyes and dyes are very difficult to break down, when they occupy a space, they tend to do this permanently because the process of breaking them down chemically takes more time.


The other effect of having clothes end up in landfills is the issue of space. Remember there were over 15 million tons of clothes dumped in 2015 alone. Now, try to think of the space all those clothes can occupy and how that wasted space could have alternatively been used.

What’s the solution then? The first solution to dealing with the issues highlighted above. We encourage people to recycle and wear eco-friendly clothing. Eco-friendly clothing are biodegradable which means they won’t release dangerous gases when they go through decomposition.

Alternatively, instead of dumping unwanted clothes, you can recycle them. At Itty-Bitty Footprint, we believe nearly all clothes are recyclable.

Are you willing to recycle your clothes to support the health of people and the Earth?

Image Source-Pixabay