- Politics and Social Issues
Recycling Old Clothes
I used to work at a charity thrift shop that resold donated clothes and household goods. I was a sorter. Mine and my co-workers' job was to examine every piece of clothing for stains and rips, missing buttons, or anything that made it unsuitable for selling in the shop. I estimate 90% of what came in the back door did not make it to the floor to be sold to our customers.
We "green bagged" all of the rejected clothing, bedding and other textiles. Textiles include all things made of fabric or cloth, including clothes, bed sheets, towels, curtains and table clothes. I being the curious type, asked right away what would happen to the green-bagged goods? What I learned was a recycler bought them by the pound, more money for the charity and less stuff going to the landfill. It was a win-win situation for everyone, including those people cleaning out their closets.
Still curious, I wondered what the recycling company did with those tons of clothes? My boss didn't really know, so I Googled "recycled clothes" to find out. What I learned was that no matter how dirty or ragged, every fiber of discarded textiles can be reused and recycled. And given that billions of pounds of what goes into our landfills is textile materials, I vow never to throw another piece of clothes in the trash.
Rag sorting companies buy the textiles from charity organizations and counties or cities that provide centers for people to drop of their old clothes. I live in a rural area where we take our own trash and recyclables to one of several centers throughout the county. Each center has bins for clothes, shoes, belts, and pocketbooks. The same company that buys from the thrift shop where I worked also buys discarded clothing from the county, going around and emptying those bins at the waste disposal centers.
About half of those textiles go to foreign countries. Unusable garments can be made into wiping and polishing rags. Those are sold to industries and consumers. The rest are shredded into fibers to make new products. Beside new clothes the fibers go into making archival paper, blankets, insulation, and even plastic fencing.
Do It Yourself
A quick browse through Pinterest and you'll be over whelmed by ways to re-purpose old clothes and bed sheets and pillowcases. Quilting, crocheting or braiding rag rubs, wall hangings, curtains, new clothing items, tote bags, and the list goes on and on.
Just never, ever through these fabric items in the trash. They still have life and someone somewhere can use them.