Monday, February 14, 2011

Recycle Stained, Worn Clothing

I generally donate our old clothing to local thrift stores. These thrift stores universally ask that you only donate useable clothing/household items and one of my favorites has a sign posted that says "If you wouldn't want to buy it, don't donate it." This is because unusable items are basically trash and the thrift stores have to foot a dump bill for those donations they can't sell. If you're trying to help a charity, you don't give them your trash! You're only costing them money.

OK - off the soapbox. All of this to say that I hate throwing clothing items away because another American won't buy it at a thrift store. A few years ago I saw a picture of some kids in Africa and one of them was wearing a little girl's Ariel nightgown like a shirt. I have wondered how clothing gets to these places. I have wondered if a warm sweater with a stain on the sleeve wouldn't be useful to someone, somewhere as I throw it in the trash because it's not 'good enough' for the thrift store.

Thanks to my friend, Denise, I learned about a donation alternative to these 'too used' textile items. There is a great company called Retex whose mission is to help people and the environment through textile recycling. This company has over 150 donation boxes in King & Snohomish counties, so donating is easy! The clothing and shoes are sorted and used for a variety of purposes including secondhand use in poor countries, industrial cleaning rags, recycled fibers into new products, and recycled fibers into insulation products. Only 5% of items donated to Retex end up in a landfill!

The website is full of great information if you want to poke around. I will be taking my 'too-used' items to the Woodinville Park'n'Ride donation bin in the future and feeling much better about not tossing things in the trash!

p.s. Seattle is pretty good about recycling, in general, compared to the rest of the United States. Here's a neat article if you want to pat yourself on the back for living and recycling here!

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