So, you Marie Kondo’d your closet. You are paring down and trying to be more of a minimalist. You’re also trying to be more environmentally conscious, bringing your reusable straw to your favorite cafe and toting your own bags to the grocery store. All of these lifestyle changes work in conjunction with another—recycling your clothes.
Recycling clothing allows you to save money, the planet and your time and space. It can be overwhelming to stare at a pile of clothes that you no longer need. It may seem like the easy thing to do is to throw them away, but when you do this, they don’t really go away. They end up in landfills, which harm the environment.
Instead of throwing away the clothes you’ve outgrown or you’ve replaced for newer trends, recycle them. It’s becoming increasingly easier to do, thanks to several companies who are stepping up to help.
According to the World Wear Project, almost 100 percent of household textiles and clothing can be recycled, regardless of the quality or condition. They argue that when Americans recycle their unwanted clothing and textiles, it provides three main benefits: it funds charitable programs, reduces solid waste and provides economic stimulus and employment.
The WWP warns against throwing away any clothing item. Even rags can have some use and value. The reality is that textiles, even those labeled biodegradable natural fibers, do not easily degrade in landfills due to minimal sunlight and oxygen. Burning textiles only contributes to air pollution.
According to the WWP, only 16.2 percent of textiles were recovered and kept out of landfills in the last decade. One way to combat this waste is to recycle your used and old clothes in recycling programs. Many big name clothing brands are now adding programs like this to their stores.
Check out some popular recycling programs below:
Nisolo is a sustainable shoe brand that is committed to “working under a circular fashion model.” They say their goal is to collect 5,000 shoes by 2020 for Soles4Souls. Right now, they’re 30 percent of the way there, having collected and diverted 1,490 pairs from landfills. If you want to participate in their shoe reclamation program, then all you need to do is register your shoes online, print the form and ship the shoes. Then, you’ll receive a $30 store credit.
Stop by your local Madewell with “pre-loved” jeans as part of Cotton Incorporations’s Blue Jeans Go Green program that will turn them into housing insulation for organizations like Habitat for Humanity—and Madewell will give you $20 off a new pair of jeans. So far, 716,839 jeans have been recycled to insulate a potential 956 homes and save 358 tons of waste from landfills.
H&M’s The Garment Collection Program
The Garment Collection Program is a global initiative where H&M “set out for a sustainable fashion future.” You can go to your local H&M store (check online for participating stores) with your bag of clothing. Stores have boxes for textiles of any brand and any condition, including bed sheets. These items are sent to a recycling plant, where they’re sorted by hand. For every bag of textiles you drop off, you’ll receive a discount card for 15 percent off your next in-store purchase.
North Face’s Clothes the Loop Program
Clothes the Loop is a recycling program that asks customers to bring in unwanted clothing and footwear at The North Face Retail and Outlet Stores. Apparel and footwear in any condition and from any brand can be recycled at their stores. Those who participate can earn a $10 reward toward a purchase of $100 or more at The North Face. Since they started Clothes the Loop, people have brought in more than 95,000 pounds of clothing and footwear to The North Face US stores for reuse and recycling.
Patagonia accepts old products mailed to them or dropped off at their stores to be repurposed and recycled. They request the items simply be washed first. They also have an online store of used Patagonia clothing for purchase called WornWear and they encourage people to shop here rather than purchasing new in order to reduce environmental impact.
Reformation x thredUP
This sustainability-minded clothing company’s partnership with thredUP encourages customers to recycle their clothing Reformation store credit. Simply follow the instructions online to order a kit, send in your clothing and earn shopping credit.
Like Madewell, Levi’s participates in Cotton Incorporation’s Blue Jeans Go Green program. Their stores and outlets have a box where you can donate old jeans from any brand. You can save 20 percent off a single item when you bring denim in for recycling.
Head to any Eileen Fisher store or Renew retail store and bring in “worn or torn” Eileen Fisher clothes. As part of their take-back program, they will recycle these items to turn them into new designs or to find a place for them to be reused another way. For each item you bring in, Eileen Fisher will give you a $5 Rewards Card.
We’re excited to see so many retailers participating in textile recycling programs to encourage consumers to prevent these items from ending up in landfills. Did we miss any programs you’re aware of? Share in the comments below!