Textile Recycling: It Just Makes Sense

We all know the benefits of donating “gently used” articles to Goodwill or other thrift-type stores. Almost all communities have a way to make donating easy and convenient.

There’s a new type of recycling that I’m excited about: textile recycling, which is the processes by which old clothing and other textiles are recovered for reuse in different forms than originally intended. For instance, old jeans can be recycled into insulation.

The importance of recycling textiles is increasingly being recognized. Once in landfills, natural fibers can take hundreds of years to decompose. During the decomposing process, they may release methane and CO2 gas into the atmosphere, plus may release toxic substances into groundwater and surrounding soil. Additionally, synthetic materials may never decompose.

Which textiles are accepted for recycling? Torn, badly worn or even stained items such as:
back packs
table cloths
area rugs
stuffed animals

How textile recycling works:
● When you donate clothing or any fabric item to a center for recycling, it is sorted into immediately usable items or recyclable items. You don’t have to worry about which is which–the sorters will determine the items’ destination.
● Wearable or usable material is sorted and made available for immediate use.
● Unwearable material is sorted by type of material and color. Color sorting results in fabric that does not need to be re-died, saving energy and pollutants.
● Textiles are then pulled into fibers or shredded, sometimes converting the fabric into yarn.
● Polyester-based textiles are shredded, then granulated and processed into chips. These are subsequently melted and used to create new fibers.

Giving second life to textiles results in many useful products, such as:
wiping rags
athletic equipment
pet bedding
area rugs
Insulation for home, automobile, appliance
We all know it makes sense to recycle. Now we can recycle old clothes or fabrics that may be beyond reusing in their original form. Any item is acceptable for reuse or recycling as long as it is not wet, mildewed, or soiled with hazardous material.

To find the closest textile recycling center near you, visit http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/locator/index.php If a Goodwill Industries center is near you, they are usually a good destination for textile recycling.

What’s in your closet?

8 thoughts on “Textile Recycling: It Just Makes Sense

    • I was so excited to learn about this, too, Hema. So many times I have had articles that I felt were too worn for the thrift store. This is the perfect solution.

  1. What a fabulous idea. Thanks for this, Mary. We often donate to Goodwill. I love reusing clothing to make new items to wear also. We did this with our afterschool kids when I coordinated the program.

  2. I didn’t know something like this exists and was so pleased to learn about this new form of recycling. Since more and more people are now sensitive to the importance of recycling (versus dumping everything into landfill), this is important information. Thanks Mary!

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