Mini Composting Experiment

Sustainably sourcing our clothing and having them made ethically are two parts of a three-part puzzle. The third piece to consider is what happens to them after we no longer want them and can't give them another life.

In the US alone, some 16 million tons of textile waste is created every year; yes, you read that correctly, 16 million tons or 32 billion pounds. A majority of this waste, about 10 million tons is sent to landfills, with another 3 million tons being incinerated. That’s the burning of not just cotton but plastic-based materials like polyester and Spandex.

We conducted this mini-experiment, with the gracious help of a local composting facility, to see if our clothes would compost.


Take three t-shirts, the first made of 100% certified organic cotton, the second made of a 60% cotton / 40% polyester blend, and the third made of 100% polyester, and bury them in a compost heap to observe what would happen to them at three months and six months. 


The t-shirts were cut in half, vertically at the shoulders, and then slashed to assist the organisms in doing their magic. Note: The clothes will be shredded before composting as part of our Circular Style program.

This is what they looked like on day one just before being buried in the compost pile.


A local compost facility that was kind enough to provide us with our pile for the experiment. 


At three months, there was definite breakdown of the 100% certified organic cotton t-shirt with little to no visible breakdown of the blended and polyester t-shirts.

At six months, there was significant breakdown to the 100% certified organic cotton t-shirt, in fact, we had a very difficult time finding it in the pile (you can see why). There was no visible breakdown of the blended and polyester t-shirts; they just looked dirtier.


Based on this mini-experiment, composting is certainly an effective way to deal with our textile waste, but it's only possible with certain fabrics. We understand this is not an official study; however, it's hard to deny the results.