Recycling Mystery: Clothing

Recycling Mystery: Clothing

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. There is no additional cost to you whatsoever.

We have a clothes drawback within the United States and it has nothing to do with outdated style. The drawback is what we do with the garments we now not put on.

The EPA studies that over 17 million tons of clothing and textiles find yourself in landfills yearly, comprising over 5.8% of whole house. By comparability, we recycle solely 2.5 million tons. The commonest resolution lies within the center: donating your undesirable clothes for reuse.

young woman looking through clothing in thrift store
Thrift retailer consumers search for clothes that’s in good situation. Image: Pexels

Is Your Unwanted Clothing Reusable?

What if you’ll want to eliminate clothes that’s torn or stained to the extent that it’s now not wearable? Secondhand shops and charities like Goodwill, Easter Seals, The Purple Heart Foundation, and the Salvation Army settle for all textiles for donation so long as they aren’t “moist or contaminated with hazardous supplies.” This is feasible as a result of volunteers could make small repairs and secondhand shops have established relationships with textile recyclers to deal with unsold clothes. Other organizations equivalent to PlanetAid present usable clothes to sellers in different nations to distribute of their shops.

Of course, consumers usually tend to buy clothes that’s in good situation. But within the case of Goodwill, clothes that doesn’t promote within the retailer has a 3rd and fourth likelihood for reuse via auctions and outlet stores earlier than recycling even comes into play. Those 16 million tons of clothes and textiles in landfills aren’t there as a result of secondhand shops are getting unsellable garments; they’re there as a result of customers assume their undesirable garments aren’t usable and throw them into the trash.

You might help cut back the quantity of clothes and textile merchandise going into landfills. If clothes is past restore, it’s possible recyclable.

rags and waste fabrics in the landfill
You might help cut back the quantity of clothes and textile merchandise going into landfills. If clothes is past restore, it’s possible recyclable. Image: Adobe Stock

The Clothing Recycling Market

While secondhand shops do good enterprise, they usually promote less than 20% of shopper donations. Luckily, it’s attainable to recycle outdated clothes in different methods.

If you favor to chop out the intermediary, some outstanding names in textile recycling embrace the American Textile Recycling Service, Mac Recycling, and USAgain. All of those corporations provide clothes drop-off bins all through the U.S., often in high-traffic areas equivalent to parking tons.

Even some governments are moving into the sport, equivalent to New York’s refashionNYC. This program affords clothes drop-off bins for residence complexes, workplace buildings, and colleges.

As of 2021, two companies at the moment settle for textile recycling curbside however solely in choose taking part areas. They are Simple Recycling and RidWell. If neither service is on the market close to you, you would possibly encourage your municipality to take part of their applications.

Additionally, the clothes retailers H&M and Zara settle for clothes of all manufacturers for recycling drop-off at their shops. Some specialty retailers will settle for particular merchandise for recycling. Examples embrace shoe manufacturers equivalent to Nike and Asics, and underwear manufacturers equivalent to Knickey and Hanky Panky. Additionally, the Bra Recycling Agency (B. R. A.) accepts unusable bras for recycling.

According to Secondary Materials and Recovered Textiles Association (SMART), about 45% of discarded clothes is reusable. Of the remaining 55%, most of it may be recycled: 30% is downcycled into industrial rags and 20% is processed into fiber that can be utilized in merchandise like carpet or insulation. The remaining 5% is unusable due to contamination and can find yourself in a landfill.

Clothing Recycling Tips

Here are just a few useful tricks to observe earlier than you recycle outdated clothes:

  1. Make positive all material is dry, to keep away from mildew.
  2. Check all pockets to ensure they’re empty.
  3. You can’t recycle rags contaminated with automotive fluids, paint, pesticides, or different hazardous waste because of the hazardous derived-from rule; these things should be handled as hazardous waste. Find a hazardous waste collection site near you.

Originally revealed on August 8, 2018, this text was up to date by Maureen Wise in April 2021.