6 Ways to Recycle Clothes that You Don’t Wear Anymore
Everything comes with an expiry date – including the clothes we wear. While some of our outfits get more than their fair share of outings, others are lucky enough to be worn once or maybe twice. Nonetheless, all these items eventually collect dust somewhere in our closet, waiting to be tossed away.
It’s the lifecycle of a wardrobe to ditch the old and make space for the new. In fact, an average human buys 60% new pieces of clothing every year.
We buy clothes to get a fresh fashion start; however, the environment pays its actual cost.
The yearly impact of clothing on nature is equivalent to water required to fill 1000 bathtubs and carbon emissions from driving a car for 6000 miles. What intensifies the matter is the staggering amount of clothing waste dumped into landfills every year.
An average U.S consumer throws away approximately 70 lbs of clothes annually. And all this textile waste takes up 5% landfill space. The figures are alarming enough to tackle clothing waste head-on.
On the bright side, you can divert this waste stream from landfills by recycling clothes and textile items. Well-worn, ill-fit, or unflattering – whatever maybe the reason to get rid of a piece of clothing, there’s always a way to get it out of your sight and the trash.
Here are some recycling options you can try for your duds:
Host a Clothing Swap Party
Clothing swaps offer the best means to get rid of garbs that don’t excite you anymore but are too good to be tossed away. Besides, you get to give your wardrobe the much-needed makeover and save quite a few bucks while you’re at it.
A clothing swap party basically involves trading and barter of clothes and accessories between the attendees. You can invite your friends and family to the swapmeet. It is fun, environmentally-friendly, and you might score some good stuff.
You will have to set some ground rules for the party, though. For instance, each swapper is supposed to bring X number of clothes. This way nobody will feel out of place for carrying too many or too few items at the party.
Also, ensure the participants bring high-quality clothes only. No one would be willing to swap their brand new pair of jeans for an evening dress with a broken zipper.
Get in Touch with Thrift and Consignment Stores
Going thrifty is the best way to sell your old-but-valuable threads! After all, what could be better than passing down items that no longer belong to your closet to someone who’ll love them and make extra cash off of it?
If you’re a second-hand shopper, you might already be aware of local thrift stores near you. Talk to them about their resell practices and how will you get your share of proceeds from the sales.
Although, make sure they don’t simply throw away the garment.
You can even put up your stuff for sale online on popular online thrift stores, like thredUP, Poshmark, Tradesy, and swap.com. Within a few clicks, your item is up for grabs to millions of second-hand buyers. Convenient and environmentally-caring!
Donate the Gently-Worn Outfits
Donate your gently used items to someone in need. Your trash might be someone else’s treasure. Moreover, donation offers an excellent means to give new life to your clothes that are not in an ace condition to be re-sold at second-hand stores.
An act of kindness never goes unnoticed in the U.S.A. For every donation you make, you can claim a tax deduction for it. Why not reap the tax benefits while helping the underprivileged?
You can perform charity donations both locally and nationally. Here’s a list of options you can try out:
Local Donation Centers for Clothes
- Local Churches
- Community Center in Your Town
- Homeless Shelters
- Clothing Drives at Public Schools
National Donation Centers for Clothes
- GoodWill is a non-profit that funds job training programs from the proceeds of its sales.
- Vietnam Veterans of America generates funding to support American veterans.
- The Salvation Army sells the donated items at its family stores, and the proceeds are used to fund their adult rehabilitation centers.
- Dress for Success empowers women by providing them outfits for interviews and clothing supply for a week when they land a job.
- Society of St. Vincent de Paul offers necessary clothing to low-income families at low prices and funds its charity with the sales proceeds.
- Savers helps local charity groups host clothing drives and pays them based on clothing items collected.
Look for Textile Recycling Programs
Even your threadbare outfits can be put to reuse for insulation, car seat stuffing, upholstery stuffing, and other purposes with the help of textile recycling.
There are several companies and organizations who conduct textile recycling programs to repurpose your well-worn clothes and accessories.
Here are a few of them to get your recycling game started:
- American Textile Recycling Service is committed to keeping clothes out of landfills and help communities reuse, renew, and recycle clothing, shoes, and other household goods.
- USAgain is a green enterprise that works to save landfill space and curb greenhouse emissions by giving clothes a second life.
- Garment Collection Program by H&M is a global initiative to rewear/reuse/recycle your unwanted clothes of any brand in any condition. Moreover, for every drop-off, you receive a 15% discount card for the next purchase at H&M.
- Worn Wear accepts used Patagonia clothing and gives you free credits in return for the next Patagonia purchase.
- The North Face accepts unwanted clothes and shoes of any brand at their retail stores, which are then put to use for disaster relief and micro-enterprise programs.
Upcycle Old Clothes into Cleaning Rags
We are not the one to judge if you don’t wish to go through all the trouble of reaching out to donation centers or locating a recycling bin.
There’s always another way: recycle at home.
Did you know your old t-shirts and outfits made from cotton have an afterlife as well? The one where they keep hustling as washcloths and rags to keep your house clean.
It’s quite easy to make upcycled rags. All you have to do is cut up the old piece of garment into a square, rectangle, or whatever shape you prefer. Here’s a helpful guide on making four rags from one t-shirt in two cuts.
Compost Your Clothing at Home
Composting is a surefire way to divert textile waste from landfills. Depending on the fiber, the decomposition time can vary from one week to as long as five years.
Make sure the garment you’re adding to the compost heap is natural and biodegradable. That would include cotton, wool, silk, cashmere, bamboo, jute, and hemp.
Leather also breaks down but takes a while to decompose compared to other fabrics.
Strip down all the non-biodegradable and synthetic stuff from your garment, like, plastic tags, buttons, zips, press studs, etc. Next, shred your clothing item into smaller pieces. It will help accelerate the decomposition rate.
Lastly, ensure your composting heap stays in balance by adding wetter items (vegetable peelings or garden cuttings) and keeping the clothing composition at a maximum of 25%.
Let’s hear from you now. Do you recycle clothes? We’d love to hear your ideas on the same. Do share your experience in the comments section below.