When spring cleaning comes around I often find myself with piles of clothes. A pile to keep, a pile to donate and a pile that seems to have no place to go but the landfill. I can never bear to throw clothes away, no matter what shape they are in. Old jeans and t-shirts make great outdoor get messy work outfits, though you don’t need a closet full of those. Old t-shirts and towels make great rags, but there is a point when you have too many rags. I have found that there is hope to bring a new life to those old worn out clothes and keep them far away from the landfill.
Donating your barely used clothing to the Salvation Army and Goodwill is always a good idea. But, don’t think your old worn out clothes or blankets don’t have a place. Most Salvation Army’s and Goodwill’s sort through all donated items brought in and sell as much as they can. The items that cannot be sold, but still have some use are sent to impoverished countries. The really worn unusable items are sent off to the textile industry. They become rags or shredded up to use as installation in the automobile and other industries. It is even possible for your old torn jeans to have a new life as a dollar bill.
An old sweater that seems to be stretched out more than you remember and has lost its perk can have a whole new life if you like to crochet or knit, or are willing to learn. Most old sweaters can be unraveled and turned back into a ball of yarn. The yarn can be used to turn your old sweater into a new pair of socks, mittens or your favorite pattern.
Patagonia’s Common Threads Garment Recycling Program was developed in 2005 to help the company do there part by keeping their clothes out of landfills. The old worn out clothes are recycled and reincarnated into brand new clothing. You never know, your brand new shirt could really be your old shirt, with a new life. Patagonia accepts items by mail or they can be dropped off at any of their stores. They will take certain old worn out Patagonia and a few non-Patagonia garments. They accept Capilene Performance Baselayers, Patagonia fleece, Polartec fleece clothing (from any maker), Patagonia cotton T-shirts and some additional polyester and nylon products. Check with Patagonia directly for additional garments they may have added to their program.
If you are a little crafty, you can turn old jeans into shorts, a skirt or a purse. Cut up old shirts into blocks and make a quilt or pillows. Old socks can be tied into knots for a fun tug-o-war toy for your dog. Shirts can be cut up into pieces and soaked in fabric softener and used as a dryer sheet.
There are so many ways to recycle and bring new life to old worn out clothes. Hopefully the next time you clean out your closet you will be able to give your old worn out clothes a second chance at life and keep them out of the landfill.