Recycle Old Clothes, Don’t Throw Them Away

Recycle old clothes, don't throw them away.

Photo: Shutterstock

Everyone loves a new outfit. They may not like shopping, but the confidence boost of a new look is not to be underestimated. But what happens when the closet and dresser are full? Where do the old clothes go?

Most people are familiar with thrift stores, Value Village, and Goodwill (especially now, thanks to Macklemore’s hit song) and send some of their clothes there. Many don’t know that even if clothes are not in a condition to be reworn or reused, they should not be thrown in the garbage. There is not enough reuse and proper disposal of textiles, and it leads to a lot of problems.

Unfortunately, the “EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5 percent of all landfill space.” Even with the 3.8 billion pounds (15 percent) of textiles that are recycled, the other 85 percent are sent directly to landfills. On average, a person in the U.S. throws about 70 pounds of clothing or shoes per year into the garbage. Each person should strive to follow all three steps of the process: buy, wear, then recycle.

The recycling industry as well as various charities have existed to help reuse clothes and dispose of them properly. This allows them to get more use out of fewer clothes and helps them continue to add value to the U.S. economy.

In King County, Washington, alone there are several places to drop of old textiles. They accept everything from linens and bedding to shoes, clothes, and rugs. Items such as socks or shoes do not need to be paired. Donations cannot be wet or mildewy, and they cannot be contaminated with hazardous chemicals. See King County’s donation website to search for donation locations.

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