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How to Recycle Clothing

How to Recycle Clothing

That $6 top from H&M doesn’t seem so sweet when you consider that Americans produce over 25 billion pounds of textile waste a year and about 85% of consumer textile waste ends up in landfills.

the problem with Fast Fashion

Textile waste in the US has exploded in recent years due to “fast fashion,” where large retailers mass-produce inexpensive, low-quality clothing to turn out trends as quickly as possible.

The result is cheap clothing that quickly falls apart or out of style and ends up as textile waste. In addition to the pollution, fast fashion has also been linked to poor working conditions for workers, making it environmentally and socially unsustainable. To learn more about the impacts of fast fashion, I recommend the documentary True Cost (available on Netflix).

Don’t despair if you’re dying to get rid of the mound of old clothing in your closet. Nearly 100% of clothing and textiles are recyclable.

Clothing Drop-offs in Philly

There are many options in Philly to donate used clothing from non-profits and others.

In an effort to make their business more sustainable, companies like Levi’s, H&M, and Madewell now offer recycling programs. Simply drop off old clothing and textiles at their store locations.

Recycling Clothing that Can’t Be donated

For clothing that is too worn to be reused your best bet is to recycle them with a Planet AidGreendrop, or Goodwill donation bin. Most textiles can be broken down their fibers and recycled for insulation, carpet padding, yarn, and other uses.

How to recycle scraps

It can be a bit harder to recycle fabric scraps, clothing, and textiles that are too worn to be donated or reused. But there are still many options to keep them out of landfills.

Don’t sentence those old rags to the landfill just yet! Repurpose old t-shirts and towels for cleaning rags or as a craft. However, there’s only so many rags even the most enthusiastic of cleaners needs in the house. Local animal shelters also sometimes need clean fabric for bedding and cleaning rags.

Composting fabric

Fabric made out of 100% cotton can be composted because the natural fibers break down, especially small pieces. Just make sure it isn’t contaminated with any chemicals before adding to your compost bin.

Safely Recycling Cleaning Rags

If the rag you’re trying to get rid of has been used to clean up hazardous materials like gasoline, turpentine, pesticides, or any flammable substance cannot be recycled or reused and must be disposed of safely. Check out this guide on cleaning used rags.

With seemingly never-ending amounts of clothing, it is more important than ever to keep reusable fabrics and textiles out of landfills.

Readers, how do you avoid the traps of fast fashion?

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Marie is a senior at Villanova University studying communication and sustainability. She lives for hiking, camping, skiing, and any outdoor activity. Marie is a coffee addict, loves reading, and has never met a cat or dog she didn't like. View all posts by Marie Bouffard
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