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Don’t Trash Your Old Clothes

2014 February 3

Greetings from New England!Each Monday we write about the New England environment and way of life seen through our local perspective. Previous posts

By Gina Snyder

The public schools in my town now host smart new boxes that collect unwanted clothing and textiles for recycling. Not only do these boxes look really sharp, they actually are “SMART” – they are from Baystate Textiles, a member of the “Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association.”

I’ve seen clothing collection boxes before, but this new program will accept almost any fabric (even things like handbags, shoes, and stuffed animals). Stained, torn or ragged, as long as a textile is clean and dry, they’ll take it.

With 25.5 billion pounds of useable textiles thrown away each year (70 pounds per American), there is a lot of waste that can be prevented. Contrary to popular belief, donations in any condition are welcomed by both for-profit and non-profit textile collectors.

You can even donate items with stains, rips, missing buttons or broken zippers because textiles are a valuable commodity. Items that don’t sell in a thrift store are baled and sold to brokers or graders who sell to other markets. This income helps thrift stores support their mission.

The boxes at my town’s schools provide work for local companies, which turn about 30% of the donated textiles into industrial wiping cloths. A Massachusetts company cuts used clothing and other textiles into rags and sells them to commercial garages and public works operations. The remaining 20 percent is sent to fiber converters -another local textile recycler – where textiles are broken down into their basic fiber components to be re-manufactured into insulation for autos and homes, carpet padding, or sound-proofing materials.

Reusing textiles uses less energy and less water than any competitive products made from newly produced paper or textiles, according to SMART. You may even have used wipes made from recycled fabric in your home or for your car (for example, soft lint-free wipes or super absorbent rags). By recycling my old or unwanted fabrics, I can help my town save trash disposal costs, help generate revenue for the schools and have a positive impact on the environment.

When cleaning out your closets, donate your textiles rather than throwing them away!

More EPA info on textile waste and recylcling

More EPA information on Trash and Recycling

About the author:  Gina Snyder works in the Office of Environmental Stewardship, Compliance Assistance at EPA New England and serves on her town’s climate committee.


Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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12 Responses leave one →
  1. Bouchakour permalink
    February 3, 2014

    This is a great idea to generate work and income and protect the environment.
    Best regards

  2. Aaron Stephens permalink
    February 3, 2014

    Thanks for the informative article. I’m sure there are many people out there (like me) who didn’t know damaged (but clean and dry) clothes can be donated at these receptacles.

  3. Mackenzie permalink
    February 4, 2014

    You can make your own rag rugs at home as well. I’m cutting a skirt, spiraling around it from the hem up to the waist, and crocheting the strip as I work, to make a rag rug.

  4. osama permalink
    February 6, 2014

    that’s great idea and will be useful for every one and also can reduce disease like yeast infection

  5. permalink
    February 27, 2014

    It is a very interesting article. Very good initiative. Recycling is always welcome and protect the environment is very important.

  6. waseem dar permalink
    March 6, 2014

    It is a very good idea to keep our environment clean and get the work for the needy. Really liked it and I would follow the instructions contained herein.

  7. Vintageclothing permalink
    June 25, 2014

    Great salute. Really very useful for poverty people.

  8. Vintageclothing permalink
    July 22, 2014

    Donating clothes is a great thing. Go ahead.

  9. Fireflyvintage permalink
    July 22, 2014

    Superb decision. Have to implement in all places.

  10. vintage garments  permalink
    July 23, 2014

    Have to follow. nice thoughts.

  11. Vintage Hats permalink
    July 24, 2014

    All should follow.

  12. vintage dresses permalink
    July 24, 2014

    This should be implement in all over the world.

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