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Recycling Facility

1-3 hours

Group activity / Excursion



This activity support students to go out and meet the world – in this case a recycling facility, which provides a personal experience of the volumes and issues related to post-consumer waste. Seeing clothes that have been disposed of, not only gives an image of the condition of the clothes but also confronts students with design related choices that might give clothing a longer life – whether it is choices related to aesthetics, technical aspects, or other.

Seeking expert knowledge on this part of the textile industry, educates students on the practicalities of handling post-consumer waste. Understanding the volumes and complexity of this process can inform the students' future design choices and might even spark ideas for concepts of recycling.

Links to Pillar(s)

Cultural - Economic - Environmental - Social



Go to a recycling facility that collects and sort textiles and clothing and talk to the people working there. Ask them to show and explain the loads of textile waste, the machinery, the sorting process and the output material.

  • What are the existing options for recycling post-consumer waste?


Each student:

  • Listen to this view of the textile industry

  • Explore the place and document insights by drawing and taking notes

  • Write half a page of reflections on your experience


Arrange with the recycling facility that they donate an amount of clothes for the students to study and perhaps experiment with (see the activity Aesthetic surgery). Ask students to focus on 3 pieces of clothing. They should undertake an analysis and study garment functionality in order to consider the technical aspects of durability:

  • What is the condition of the garments?

  • What kind of garment is it?

  • How is the garment constructed?

  • Which seams, lines, details, etc. is used in relation to the clothes and its function?

  • How is the textile constructed - what techniques are used; weave, knit, non-woven, after treatment etc.?

  • How do these different aspects of the garment align with each other, and how does this affect the overall durability of the garment?

Suggested Readings

Heikkilä, P., Fontell, P., Määttänen, M. & Harlin, A. 2018. “Review of Textile Recycling Ecosystem and a Case of Cotton”. In: Niinimäki, K. Sustainable Fashion in a Circular Economy. Helsinki: Aalto University, pp. 192-217

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