Skip to main content


Let’s Talk Science and the Royal Society of Canada have partnered to provide Globe and Mail readers with relevant coverage about issues that affect us all – from education to the impact of leading-edge scientific discoveries.

Kim Taylor, Education Specialist, Let’s Talk Science

This October marks the 20th anniversary of Waste Reduction Week in Canada. This year-round program, focused on the principles of circular economy, resource efficiency, and waste reduction culminates in a week dedicated to bringing awareness to the issue of waste.

During Waste Reduction Week, October 18-24, each weekday focuses on specific waste areas, including textiles, e-waste, plastics, and food. On the weekend, the themes provide ideas for ways to extend the life of these products/materials through sharing, swapping, and repairing.

While many of the ideas shared through the week offer ways to make significant impacts, Textiles Tuesday focuses on items we all use every single day - our clothes and other household fabrics.

Reduce the Impacts of Fast Fashion with Ideas from Textiles Tuesday

Most people don’t realize the quantity of textiles - clothing, sheets, towels and other items, they discard each year. Did you know that 37 kg of textiles per person ends up in North American landfills annually? That’s over 500,000 tonnes! And worldwide, over 92 million tonnes of clothing are sent to landfills or burned. At the current rate, this number could increase 50% by 2030.

For many, the reason for this is simple. It isn’t easy to recycle textiles and most people are not wearing their clothes as long as they used to due to low costs and abundance of options created by the fast fashion industry. Nearly 60% of all clothing produced ends up in incinerators or landfills within a few years of being made and some garments are thrown away after as few as 7-10 wears.

T-shirts, and jeans that were in fashion yesterday but in landfills today are not going anywhere fast. Unlike natural fibres, synthetic fibres, such as polyester and nylon, do not biodegrade. In fact, the average polyester product can survive in landfill for over 200 years.

Tips for Decreasing Your Textile Footprint

If you don’t like the sound of all of this - you are not alone. The current way we make, wear and get rid of our clothing isn’t working. But it is not too late to change that. The first step is learning more about this issue. There are lots of articles you can read in the Textile Resources section of Waste Reduction Week in Canada

You can also explore these issues with your friends and families through Let’s Talk Science’s Clothing4Climate project available in both English and French free of charge. This citizen science project encourages youth in Grades 7 to 12 - prime consumers of “fast fashion” - to learn about the science behind climate change and the impact our clothing system has on the environment.

Easy Steps You Can Take Today

Now that you and your family know more about the issue, it’s time to hit the closets! Don’t know where to start? Check out the Take Action section at the bottom of the Textile Resources page and learn other ways to change your clothing habits through the Clothing4Climate project. Submit your actions to Let’s Talk Science and be featured on the Showcase page and you may even see them on the new Clothing4Climate Instagram page.

Fall is a great time to take a serious look into our closets as we put away our summer clothes and get out our winter ones. Taking part in Textiles Tuesday is the perfect way to kick this off! And with everyone’s favourite costume season coming up, look for new ways to reduce your textile waste by reusing materials found around the house this Halloween. Share your costumes and ideas at #OnHandHalloween on Instagram.

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct