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Tue Jan 28, 2020, 03:37 PM

Do you know what's happening to your clothing donations?

Home & Garden

Do you know what’s happening to your clothing donations?

By Amy Freeman
Jan. 28, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. EST

The globe is awash in discarded clothing, carpets, tires, footwear, sheets and towels. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the volume of textiles Americans send to landfills as municipal waste is skyrocketing — 11.15 million tons in 2017 compared with 1.7 million tons in 1960. The Council for Textile Recycling says the average consumer disposes of 70 pounds of textiles per person per year.

Those unwanted textiles, however, could be reused, upcycled or recycled.

If you have dropped off a bag of clothes at your local Goodwill or in a clothing bin operated by a nonprofit such as Planet Aid, you may not realize how important textile recycling is in keeping those items out of landfills. Recycling is different from simply reusing clothing; it’s about dealing with textiles that are torn, stained or otherwise unwearable. Large nonprofits have the capacity to send unusable textiles to either nonprofit or for-profit recyclers. The common goal is extending textiles’ useful lives, which means keeping them out of landfills.

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As an industry, textile recycling is in its infancy. That’s true even though textiles are shredded for reuse in products such as carpet padding or mattresses, or as rags; chemical processes that create new fibers from old ones are not yet available at scale. Growing calls for sustainability, though, might be the catalysts for change.

Adam Baruchowitz is founder and chief executive of Wearable Collections, a for-profit company that has collected and processed unwanted clothing in New York City since 2004. According to him, 6 percent of the city’s residential waste stream is textiles, and only 15 percent of that material is collected by agencies like his, either charities or for-profits. Wearable Collections keeps 95 percent of what it collects out of landfills, reaching an estimated 20 million pounds, in total, by the end of 2020.

“Textile recycling is a noble idea, but it’s also an industry. Textiles are a commodity, with a market value and a price,” Baruchowitz explains. “Collector” companies like his gather unwanted textiles and deliver them to massive sorting facilities, where workers sort textiles into baskets for seasons, gender and grade, A to E.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jan 28, 2020, 03:57 PM

1. tl:dr - What should we do? I don't really have time to read the article -

just get to the point.

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Response to Dream Girl (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 28, 2020, 04:41 PM

3. Don't throw away; bring to goodwill or equivalent.

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Response to Dream Girl (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 28, 2020, 04:48 PM

4. Animal rescues often can use old sheets and towels

Other than that, yeah, donate to the organizations mentioned.

I always ask a rep of an animal rescue org, "I have some old ____. Could you use them?" If the answer is yes, I ask where and when to bring them for drop off.

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Response to Dream Girl (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 02:28 PM

8. H&M stores have tall boxes for recycling stained/torn clothing that goodwill won't take.

Took me a couple hours online and on the phone to find out how to donate damaged clothing, hopefully this will save other DUers some time.

When I brought some damaged clothes in, the H&M clerks were really upbeat about the donation.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jan 28, 2020, 04:04 PM

2. Great article! Thank you!

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jan 28, 2020, 06:06 PM

5. Message is really unclear - is Goodwill recycling.... or sending it to the landfill? nt.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Tue Jan 28, 2020, 09:02 PM

6. my entire wardrobe does not weight 70 pound nt

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Original post)

Wed Jan 29, 2020, 05:31 AM

7. Buy bundled rags from a recycler

Instead of paper towels or rented wipers! Personally, I only sort out worn clothes after the laundry, so the "ragbag" is always clean!

I occasionally have to promise the clean part, when one of my racin' buddies grabs a rag, and gets used underwear!

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