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Miami entrepreneur shines in global fight against fast fashion



Miami entrepreneur shines in global fight against fast fashion

MIAMI – Governments around the world are starting to take action to try to curb the role fast fashion clothing plays in the global plastic pollution crisis.

Earlier this year, French lawmakers approved a bill to penalize fast fashion companies. Australia followed suit by adding a tax for every new garment on the Australian market. And just a few weeks ago, U.S. Rep Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced the first-ever Slow Fashion Caucus on Capitol Hill.

“Often people don’t understand today the role that fashion can play in our climate crisis,” explained Pingree during the press conference late last month.

It’s something that environmental entrepreneur Patricia Ermecheo witnessed firsthand when she traveled to Ghana in 2018. That’s where 70% of the world’s donated clothing is shipped to. Unfortunately, as much as 40% of this clothing, 60 billion garments, are never sold and discarded as waste.

“It’s becoming a problem in the landfills, actually 26 billion pounds are thrown every year to landfill,” Ermecheo said.

This unacceptable impact is why Ermecheo created Osomtex, a Miami-based fashion company that creates recycled yarns and fabrics out of what would be fashion waste.

“I’ve been working really hard on this project for 13 years and what we try to do is avoid textile waste going to the landfill,” she explained.

Ermecheo gave Local 10 News a tour of Osomtex, which is the first textile recycling facility in the state of Florida.

“This is a typical used clothing bale that you will see here before processing,” she said as she pointed to a tightly packed palette of used and unwanted clothing.

Anything from deadstock t-shirts to thrown-away hotel top sheets can be transformed into threads that are then woven into new materials using a special patented process.

“We don’t use any water to do it…so zero water and zero chemicals,” she said.

That part is significant because according to the United Nations Environment Programme, the fashion industry is the second consumer of water behind the agriculture industry and produces 20% of global industrial wastewater. Osomtex promotes a gentler and more circular way of making clothing.

“You manufacture the product, the product gets a life, gets used, and then we get that product and transform it back into raw material and incorporate that product back into the circle,” Ermecheo explained.

So far, the Miami company has made shoes for Nike, uniforms for the 2020 Olympics, socks for Goodwill and even sent their socks into orbit with SpaceX.

“So when I got to meet this amazing astronaut, we really connected by understanding that Earth is our home and the only home we have,” she said.

It’s a home that’s being smothered by plastic pollution.

According to the 5 Gyres Institute, more than 60% of the clothing we wear today is made up of plastic, fabrics derived from fossil fuels that take up to 500 years to biodegrade.

You don’t have to go across the globe to see the impact. Back in February, Don’t Trash Our Treasure crews joined volunteers from Clean This Beach Up and the National Park Service to clean up Sands Key, a tiny island in Biscayne Bay.

Everything from fully intact flip-flops to hats and denim jeans could be found cluttering the island.

These sights are why Ermecheo is pushing the fashion industry and consumers to recycle more.

“Whatever is not sold, it should be come here, right, and taken care of to incorporate that material back into the supply chain of the clothing,” she said.

But until regulations can be passed and implemented, Ermecheo says it’s up to all of us to be more mindful.

“Don’t feel weird out when you see a piece of clothing that says recycled materials. It’s actually the opposite. It’s actually the coolest thing happening,” she said in her message to consumers. “And it’s the future of textiles.”

To date, Osomtex has prevented more than 30 million pounds of textile waste from entering landfills. If you are a company looking to collaborate and implement this technology, you can visit the Osomtex website.

If you are looking to reduce your personal fashion footprint, the Don’t Trash Our Treasure team has included a list of tips below.


  • Calculate cost-per-wear to cross-reference the price of an item to how many times you will realistically wear it.

  • Consider using a rental service if you need an outfit for just one occasion.

  • Alternate new clothing purchases with secondhand purchases, either from a thrift store or a secondhand website.

  • Look at your labels when buying clothing. If an item is made with synthetic fibers like nylon, spandex, polyester, acrylic, elastane, or polypropylene it is made with plastic.

  • Support the use of products with recycled materials through your purchases.

  • Find a local clothing takeback program or recycle at home using a service like Retold Recycling

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