For my graphic novel, “Team Trash: A Time Traveler’s Guide to Sustainability,” I found a lot of compelling history about clothing. A recurring theme (particularly before the Industrial Revolution) was the reuse of materials. A pair of woolen trousers could be remade into a blouse, then a hat, the scraps from the hat broken down to be woven back into yarn (the shoddy method, also called “salvage”) and so on. Compare this with today, where, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. consumer throws away 81.5 pounds of clothing every year.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the statistics: How can we turn the tide when faced with such staggering numbers? The answer, experts say, may lie in both traditional practices and technological innovations. Here’s where my journey started, and how you can start one, too.
Jaclyn Peiser contributed reporting. Editing by Hannah Good, Karly Domb-Sadof and Robbie Olivas DiMesio. Design editing by Christine Ashack. Copy editing by Dorine Bethea and Ryan Weber.