Submitted by Lauren Xue Lotenfoe, City of Orlando
Textile waste is a growing issue, with the main source being discarded clothing According to a 2018 study by the EPA, it’s the fastest growing waste stream in the U.S. accounting for nearly 112 pounds per person per year. Furthermore, close to 66% of it ends up in landfills with only about 15% of textiles being recycled.
To help mitigate this issue, Sustainability Associate Xue Lotenfoe with the City of Orlando’s Sustainability, Resilience and Future-Ready Office, has developed an innovative solution centered around upcycling. The potential pilot program, Threads for Teds, would utilize donated or recycled fabrics to create both the outer covering and stuffing for teddy bears, effectively reducing the amount of waste going to landfills.
“Orlando continues to strive to become a zero-waste community, aiming to eliminate sending solid waste to landfills by 2040,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “We know that everything we throw away has potential value, and through Threads for Teds, we found an innovative way to reuse natural resources that help promote local sustainability and make a positive impact on the environment for future generations. ”
While sustainability is at the core of this initiative, these teddy bears also offer comfort and solace, as numerous studies have highlighted the psychological comfort that teddy bears can provide to those that receive them. Each bear is a one-of-a-kind creation, assembled from a combination of textiles. Additionally, they are designed with safety in mind by using embroidered eyes and noses, ensuring that these bears can be cherished by people of all ages.
Overall, this future pilot project encourages a sustainable cycle of care. As these teddy bears find new homes, they carry with them not only warmth and comfort but also the message; that small sustainable efforts can make a big difference.