Old Clothes? Recycle 'em!

Fall is just around the corner and as we celebrate the onset of cooler temperatures (hopefully) and back to school, most of us will be cleaning out our closets and drawers. Have you ever found yourself  wondering what to do with your  unworn, unwanted, outgrown, stained up, old, and out of style clothing? The average American throws away 68 pounds of clothing each year. Stop! Take a few steps away from that garbage can and listen up- 98% of clothes thrown into the landfills can be recycled, I’ll one up that - because 100% can be upcycled or repurposed. 

 There are companies and organizations that will take your unwanted clothing and some even offer pick up services at your doorstep! You might be surprised to find out that some Goodwill and Salvation Army stores also participate in clothing recycling, while they do not sell stained clothing- many locations do bundle up the unwanted unwearables and sell them to rag sorters. After the clothing is sorted and processed it may be shredded into fibers and made into new shiny new products like insulation for stereos, archival-quality paper, blankets and even plastic fencing or rubberized playgrounds. Clothing can also be shipped to Third World countries where they may have an extended life. Here are some other options:

Patagonia's Common Threads Garment Recycling Program accepts worn out fleece, cotton t-shirts and some polyester, and transforms the old fibers into new fashions, like the fleece vest pictured above.
Other options?
Dress for Success - This international not-for-profit organization promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire along with job counseling. Each woman "dressed for success" receives one suit when she lands a job interview; she can receive a second suit or outfit when she finds work. Since 1997, Dress for Success has served almost 300,000 women around the world. You can donate suits, blouses, pants, shoes, jewelry, briefcases, black tote bags, and other appropriate business apparel.
Soles4Souls - Providing free footwear to people in need around the world, this nonprofit organization startede after the Asian tsunami in December 2004, continued in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and today distributes shoes worldwide. It also partners with Dress for Success to provide career footwear.
One World Running - This Colorado-based non-profit organization ships donated running shoes, soccer gear, and baseball equipment to athletes in Central America, Haiti, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Nike's Reuse-a-Shoe - The program grinds up and recycles discarded shoe material to build playground mats, basketball courts, and running tracks.

TNT using 100% reclaimed materials
 To complete the recycling circle, it is also important to consider buying clothing secondhand or made using recycled materials. 

* You save money: buying reusable, quality products is less expensive
* You conserve natural resources: decreasing energy and raw material consumption helps the planet
* You eliminate waste: sensible consumption frees up natural resources for other worthwhile purposes

I mentioned earlier that not only can you recycle your clothing but you can also repurpose them and here at the TrashN2Tees blog I share a few great ways to upcycle including this easy no sew tutorial that will turn your t-shirt into a scarf in 20 minutes! 
I'd love to hear about the actions your taking to recycle your clothing- Please feel free to share your tips and/or any relative resources you might have!


  1. we have been shopping second hand clothing since my daughter was born and she'll be 20 in January! WE recycle old clothes into items for my Etsy shop (wool sweaters) and other items we usually pass along to someone that can wear them or donate back to the thrift store. I've recently begun keep old tshirts - I'm making yarn from the body of the shirts (etsy shop item also) and the sleeves are becoming bean bags for my many neices and nephews (16) for Christmas presents. The older kids are getting 'corn hole' games and the younger ones, just plain bean bags with alphabets on them just to toss around. I love to upcycle!


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