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Zero Waste: Recycling Old Clothes

By Fredrica Syren:

I think its safe to say that, when I get dressed in the morning or when I buy new clothes, I dont think too much about what effect these clothes have on the environment. Dont get me wrong: I really try to buy as many organic and eco-friendly clothes as possible. And I practice quality over quantity, so I have a minimal closet. As well, I buy used clothing; I borrow clothes; and I accept hand-me-downs from friends. But the reality is that I do have three children who end up with clothes that are tornor stained and need to be tossed.

Until a couple of years ago, I did not know about textile productions effect on our planet.

The sad part is that most old clothes and textiles will end up in a landfill eventually. About 11.1 million tons of textiles such as t-shirts, pants, blankets, tablecloths, sheets and baby clothes are thrown into the trash and then into landfills in the U.S. each year. Now, if everyone would get into the habit of coming up with clever ways to reuse, recycle and donate old textiles, it would be more sustainable.

 What is the solution? Reusing and recycling old things, and preventing them from going into the landfill are great ways to reduce the use of raw materials and energy, air pollution and water pollution, waste and greenhouse emissions. The next time you have a bag of old textiles, take a moment to research where you can donate them, and keep them out of the landfill because ruined and stained textiles do not belong in landfills. Currently, textiles account for 5.2% of the wastein landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average person discards 70 pounds of clothing per year despite the fact that there are recyclers who accept all fabrics in various conditions.

 The good news is that today there are many zero waste and eco-friendly ways to discard your old clothes … even your undergarments and socks

Donate—A great option for whole and clean unwanted clothes is to donate them to secondhand shops. Make sure, however, that you donateonly wearable clothes in good condition instead of using donation sites as your “trash can.” 

Resell—For clean and nice unwanted clothes, why not make some money by selling them on eBay.com or Threadup.com

Clothing take-back—Many clothing and shoe businesses are trying to close the textile waste loop by offering a clothing take-back for a credit at their stores. For example, at Patagonia retail locations, customers can trade in their used gear and obtain credit toward another new item. The same goes with H&M and Nike; and usually they will accept any textiles,not just their own brand garments. Levi Strauss & Co offers a $10 voucher to customers who drop off a clean, dry item of clothing or a pair of shoes at its stores. The voucher can be used in any U.S. Levis store (outlets included) toward the purchase of regular-priced, in-store Levis.

Recycle—Some places have textile recycling where any old worn out clothes, including underwear and socks, can be discarded. On Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles, you can find your nearest drop-off location. As well, at Recyclenow.com you also can find the nearest textile recycling bin. A wonderful company, Terracycle’s whole business is to recycle and upcycle old stuff, so you can order a box for textile recycling from them. Nike and H&M also collect old worn clothes for recycling.

Blue Jeans Go Green—This program collects denim across the country and recycles the worn fabric into insulation. The Blue Jeans Go Green program keeps textile waste out of landfills and helps with building efforts in communities around the country.

Repurpose—On Pinterestand YouTube there are tips for repurposing old clothes. You can also check out this link for ideas.

About Green Mom

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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