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More and more businesses are trying to change what happens with the clothing they make.

Solutions to reduce textile waste

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Don't throw those old clothes away, put them to use in your garden, writes Penny Woodward.

More and more businesses are trying to change the high figures of textiles going to waste and to reduce these Australian waste streams. Some of those businesses are the cotton growers themselves. 

Two years ago, the industry’s Cotton Research and Development Corporation experimented in a laboratory with burying thousands of small portions of cotton in moist soil at 20°C. Results showed that the fungal and bacterial growth increased, and seeds still happily germinated in the soil. After four months the cotton had pretty much disappeared

Dr Oliver Knox, a University of New England soil scientist explained that cotton fibres are mostly cellulose, they feed bugs and microbes in the soil, meaning “soil becomes more active”. More trials are happening on a larger scale on a cotton farm near Goondiwindi, Queensland. Here cotton and compost were incorporated into soil on a broad scale before the 2021 planting season. Results will be available later in 2022. See more at:

Meanwhile, environmental charity Planet Ark reported in 2021 that a group of organisations involved with textiles were given a $1million grant to create a National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme. This initiative ‘aims to improve the design, recovery, reuse and recycling of textiles, providing a roadmap to 2030 for clothing circularity in Australia.’ The Goondiwindi trial is part of this scheme. See more about what the scheme hopes to achieve here:

We can also help by using old clothes in our gardens — the more uses we find for old household items, the less we will contributre to landfill.

For practical ideas for re-using old clothes in your garden, get a copy of ourEarly Spring issue (OG 135). There’s a selection of back issues available here — you can also subscribe and get the most recent issues delivered to your door!

OG 135 cover