Skip to content

Textile Recycling in the City

2013 February 25

By Jacqueline Rios

Recycle Unwanted Textiles Sign

Recycle Unwanted Textiles Sign

Recently, I did some pre-spring cleaning in my apartment and took down my old cloth shower curtains. How can you give new life to old textiles and clothes? In New York City, you can take them to one of 19 greenmarkets that accept clothing and textiles for recycling. The program, which is operated by the nonprofit GrowNYC, accepts everything from linens and fabric scraps to belts and paired shoes. They sort and redistribute the textiles to markets where there is a demand for wearable clothing or other materials. Recycled textile fibers can be used for stuffing mattresses.

I have taken old linens (towels, sheets) and unwearable clothing to the drop-off locations. It used to be that the recycling location closest to me was about a mile away and only open on Fridays, but since April 22, 2012, the textile recycling drop-off program has expanded and become more convenient for many New Yorkers. Now, a greenmarket is only five blocks away from my apartment and it’s open on Sundays to take used textiles. They also collect food scraps for composting.

The average New Yorker tosses 46 pounds of clothing and other textiles in the trash each year. The program has collected over 1.8 million pounds of textiles since 2007. For more information on the program, including a list of the drop-off locations across the city, visit their website. It is good to know that when I have clothing and linens that have outlived their useful life and are not nice enough to donate, that there is another option to a landfill.

About the Author: Jacqueline Rios is an engineer with EPA Region 2 working on Clean Water programs.

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.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Jessica permalink
    February 25, 2013

    NYC residents can also to donate conveniently from home!

    Over 200 buildings have enrolled in re-fashioNYC, the City’s official clothing reuse and recycling program in partnership with Housing Works. The program sites donation bins in residential and office buildings, making it easy, charitable, and green to get rid of any textile material. It is free, non-profit, and offers tax receipts!

    For more information, visit

  2. Carmen Guedez permalink
    March 4, 2013

    Great article! We should all do a lot more for the environment. It is very important to know where the centers are to take our textiles and other recyclable products.

    Thank You.

  3. 295 Fifth Avenue permalink
    January 14, 2015

    Thank you for sharing! Education about how the textile market can go more green is a must. We would love to have an example of this in one of our showrooms.

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS