The fashion industry has been identified as one of the leading contributors to environmental pollution, ranked just behind the oil industry. As such, it's imperative that we adopt responsible practices when discarding our old clothes. This guide provides a comprehensive approach to ensure your unwanted attire doesn't add to the environmental crisis.
The Three-Step Recycling Your worn out Clothes process
Start by categorizing your old clothes into three separate groups:
Excellent Condition: These clothes appear as good as new, with no visible signs of wear and tear.
Good Condition: These items might be slightly faded or worn but are still wearable with no stains or holes.
Poor Condition: This category includes clothes that are stained, threadbare, or have holes in them.
Leveraging Clothing Swaps and Consignment Stores
Clothing items in excellent condition can be traded at clothing swaps or sold to consignment stores.
Hosting a Clothing Swap
Organize a clothing swap by inviting a few close friends who are about the same size as you. Everyone brings their excess clothes, and you can all exchange items.
Using Consignment Stores
Alternatively, you could take your clothes to a local consignment store. They'll sell your items and give you a share of the proceeds.
Donating to Thrift Stores
Clothes in good condition can be donated to thrift stores such as Value Village, Goodwill, or Salvation Army. These organizations sort, price, and sell the donated clothes, often using the proceeds to fund charitable initiatives.
Recycling Your Clothing
Don't burden thrift stores with clothes in poor condition; they'll only waste resources trying to sort them out.
Instead, consider textile recycling for your worn-out clothes. You can find a recycling drop-off point near you using this Recycling Locator.
A few fashion companies like Patagonia accept their own items back for recycling. Additionally, retailers such as H&M and American Eagle Outfitters provide in-store recycling bins for textiles and accessories of any brand.
Common Queries About Clothing Recycling
How Do I Locate a Consignment Store?
It's as easy as carrying out a quick online search. You'll likely find several consignment stores in your area.
What Happens to Recycled Clothing?
Textile recyclers segregate clothes into wearable and recyclable categories. The recyclable textiles are then sorted by color and material type, shredded, and used as fiberfill or stuffing. Some textiles are cut into rags, while others are bundled and sold by weight.
What About Old Eyewear?
There are programs that accept used eyewear. OneSight, for example, collects old eyewear from large optical stores like Sears Optical, LensCrafters, and Target Optical. The collected glasses are disassembled and sent to third-party recyclers. The payment received from the raw materials is then used to manufacture new prescription eyewear for those in need.
Can Old Footwear Be Recycled?
Yes, indeed. Shoes in excellent condition can be swapped or sold, those in good condition can be donated, and footwear in poor condition can be recycled at a clothing recycle bin.