How to stop 13 million tons of clothing from getting trashed every year

Actress Emma Watson caught the internet’s attention last month when she showed up to the Met Gala wearing a dress made from recycled plastic bottles.

Earlier this year, H&M partnered with hip-hop artist M.I.A., asking people to donate their old clothes to them so they could recover the material for recycled clothing.

And Levi and the startup company Evrnu recently announced they’d found a way to turn recycled T-shirts into a jeans.

It’s all part of a growing awareness, and demand, for recycled clothing. As consumers call for more sustainable products, companies are experimenting with ways to meet that demand while maintaining their bottom lines.

That’s not an easy task, especially in the United States.

“Part of the difference between Europe and the U.S. is that Europeans often value high-quality clothing,” said Jana Hawley, the director of the University of Arizona’s School of Family and Consumer Sciences, who has studied the textile industry for nearly 20 years and sits on the board of the Council for Textile Recycling.

Americans, on the other hand, value an abundance of clothing, she said. “We want cheap and a lot of it.”

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