Clothing At The End Of Its Life

I've been thinking a lot about how much clothing I own versus how much I actually wear, and how much I really need.  My wardrobe could definitely do with some editing, and I own a few pieces that are still in OK condition and could be given to Goodwill or charity.  

Photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

In the past, I've cut up bath towels that are full of holes and mascara stains and repurposed them as cleaning rags for my home or (most often) my bicycle.  The same could be done with old tees and woven shirts.  

But how many old cleaning rags does a person really need, and what's to be done with textiles that are left over after you've given all your good clothes away and are fully stocked in cleaning rags?  

This is where clothing recycling comes into play.  I've had a hard time locating a clothing recycling service in India, but many U.S. cities have textile recycling programs.  Many local charities and thrift stores will also take your recycable textiles no longer suitable for wear.  Almost all clothing is recyclable, from shoes to sports jerseys to undergarments.  Earth911 has some good info on recycling textiles.

TerraCycle is also a great organization in the U.S., Europe, and Pacific Asia, that recycles almost anything imaginable.  Some of their recycling programs are free, but for others, you purchase a Zero Waste Box for a particular type of item, and once it's full you ship it back to them for free.  The boxes can be a bit pricey, but you're really paying for the convenience of shipping and the peace of mind of knowing your items are going somewhere they'll be properly recycled.  You can also go in on a box with your local school or community center. 

Textile recycling centers will separate items by material, removing trims like zippers and eyelets, and the fabric itself will be broken down into pulp and made into either recycled yarn, or other materials like insulation or furniture padding.  Polyester textiles can be melted down into polyester pellets and re-made into new polyester . 

Obviously, it's always better to extend the life of clothing as long as possible before sending it to be downcycled, but it's good to know there are options for those items which just don't have any more wear in them in their current state.