Omaha business pushes for sustainability keeping textiles out of landfills

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT)-- The clothes you’re wearing right now will likely end up in a landfill one day. How long it takes for it to get there, is up to us.

How people get rid of their clothing can have a big impact on the planet.

Yigi Yang is a University of Nebraska-Lincoln Fashion Merchandising Professor. She says, making our lives more environmentally friendly begins with designers making decisions to use sustainable materials.

“We do that all the way, everybody, and of course it will be a step to at least to a more sustainable environment,” said Yang.

The EPA says 11.2 million tons of textiles end up in landfills, accounting for 8 percent of all municipal waste.

Local designers are not long for making a difference. One Omaha store says it has been responsible for keeping 11 million pounds of textiles out of Nebraska landfills.

Kelly Newell owns Scout Dry Goods and Trade. Running off a buy-sell-trade model, Newell says she’s seen an increase of shoppers in her store over the last couple of years.

“It's a dire situation, this is very serious. There are just thousands and thousands and millions of pounds of textiles being tossed away,” said Newell. “But I think it's really starting to hit us as a collective how serious this situation is and you can be a part of that solution and I think that is something people really like to be a part of.”

By offering cash and store credit for in-season, gently used clothing, Newell is trying to pull in new customers that can solve a problem many in fashion agree on, an excess of textile waste.

The UNL Fashion Merchandise Department is also seeing more students using materials made from recycled plastic bottles. It's a material already heavily used in rug making but they're trying to integrate it more into clothing as well.