If your closet is anything like mine, it’s full of things you should probably toss.
I’ve got embarrassing shirts that no longer fit, socks with gaping holes (which I still wear), and bulky sweatpants that never see the light of day (and should never leave my apartment).
This week, Fast Company brought up the issue of clothing in our garbage. It’s estimated over 10 million tons of textiles were sent to landfills in 2015 and just 14.2% of all shoes and clothes were recycled that year, according to the EPA.
Why are we so terrible at recycling our t-shirts and jeans? For one, not all recycling facilities accept clothing. Inevitably, we donate those clothes to stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army, which if unsold, end up in the trash anyway (which doesn’t mean you shouldn’t donate them, just that not everything you give will find a home).
Clothing often can’t be recycled back into clothing either. Instead, it’s down-cycled into products like rags or used in insulation (and for those personally attached to their clothing, knowing your wedding dress might be used as a cleaning rag would be a mighty hurdle to jump).
But how can we get rid of our used clothing? Well, turns out, there are a number of solutions to your closet problem if your recycling facility doesn’t accept textiles.
Donate them for reuse
If you want to make a social impact, do an online search for a local consignment, thrift, or charity store where you can donate unwanted, clean clothing (ask an employee where your clothing goes if it doesn’t end up getting purchased). If there’s a huge stain on a shirt, however, you’ll have significantly better luck recycling it instead of donating it. Your shirt with holes may very well end up cleaning a car’s windshield one day.