It is a common belief that single-use, disposable textiles negatively affect the environment compared to reusable textiles. However, this is not truly the case when considering some points.
Reusable linens consume approximately 4.5 times more resources than single-use disposable products, mainly because of the water needed for laundering.5 Chemicals used during the laundry process can also be harmful to the flora when expelled into the sewage system. In terms of fabric production, one study showed that both types of textiles have a similar impact on the environment. On the one hand, single-use garments’ main materials are man-made and produced with oil, which contributes to a reduction in natural resources. On the other hand, cotton harvesting for manufacturing reusable textiles usually requires the use of pesticides.
Furthermore, the disposal of single-use products is a source of concern. But according to new research, there are many opportunities for long-term strategies and green initiatives with disposable textiles. One of them is the use of pelletised garment waste as a replacement for coal in power plants and other combustion applications.5