Wear, Donate, Recycle


Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. – New England proverb

Council for Textile Recycling, a nonprofit organization with headquarters in Bel Air, Maryland, explains in a simple language, “When your clothing, footwear, household textiles, and accessories are out of style, worn, torn, stained, or just no longer useful, donate or recycle them. It’s really that easy”.

The Council’s goal is to achieve zero textile waste going to landfills by 2037. To achieve this, the CTR plans to focus its efforts on three key areas:

  1. In the next few years, generating the resources needed to fund a multi-media Public Service Announcement campaign centered around a simple message: “Wear. Donate. Recycle.”
  2. Building an open source platform that facilitates contacts between member stakeholders with the aim of building relationships and sharing information that support post-consumer textile waste diversion activities.
  3. Engaging brands, retailers and municipalities in advocacy and other efforts aimed at informing the public about available end of life (EOL) options for PCTW.

Now that’s a real tough goal. But why have an easy goal for a tough problem? The problem of textile and clothing waste is gigantic. But if you really think, solution to this humungous problem is simple if it starts at the consumer’s level. Wear, donate and recycle. That’s what Council of Textile Recycling suggests.

Thank you CTR, for doing what you are doing.

Many people are not even aware that they can recycle their clothes. 95% of clothes can be reused and recycled, so why throw it away.

Reusing and recycling clothes helps save natural resources. It helps to save the most pressing issue today: water. Huge amounts of water is used in cultivating crops and producing textiles. It also saves dyes and chemicals used while producing textiles and clothing.

Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART), founded in 1932, is an association composed of companies from the United States, Canada, Mexico, South and Central America, Europe, Asia, and Pacific Rim countries who are involved in every phase of industry. These companies are involved with the grading and sorting of mixed post-consumer textiles for the wiping materials and used clothing markets.

SMART shares information on items made by recycling textiles:

  • Stuffed toys and pillows become car seat stuffing and automobile insulation.
  • T-shirts, sheets, towels, and clothing become wiping cloths.
  • Denim becomes home insulation.
  • Shoe soles become paving material.
  • Sweaters and coats become carpet padding.
  • Curtains and drapes become stuffing for pillows, sleeping bags, and animal beds.
  • Wool sweaters and materials become baseball and softball filling.
  • Velvet materials become jewelry box lining.
  • Leftover fabric scraps become paper money.

Below is life cycle of second hand clothing:


Source: Council for Textile Recycling

A report published in Chicago Tribune on April 12, 2016 highlights that from April 18 to 24, World Recycle Week, H&M aimed to collect 1000 tons of old clothing. H&M gave shoppers 30 percent discount in exchange of outgrown, hole ridden or no long trendy garments. H&M says it has recycled 25,000 tons of unwanted clothing since it began the in-store recycling program — which runs year-round with a 15 percent discount reward — in 2013. It aims to collect another 1,000 tons during its World Recycle Week push, and partnered with singer M.I.A. on a song and music video promoting the effort.

Now that might not be enough but it’s a great start by a popular “Fast Fashion” retailer.

I like clothes and used to buy a lot of them. Growing up, I never saw a piece of textile or cloth being wasted or trashed. Usually, non-required clothes were given away to people who can use them. So I developed a habit of not trashing my clothes. But with the passage of time, I collected lot of clothes that I was not using and piled up in the basement in various bags. I pledged to clear that up in 2016.

So this year, I worked for an hour, every Sunday, for 2 months and sorted out all my clothes and participated in a garage sale.

Here is a picture.


Sold clothes for $250 and donated rest of them to a thrift store.  You get a tax benefit too. It was a lot of work but worth it. Now I am a happy man with fewer clothes in my closet.

I am really glad I did this. Here is my future plan: buy less, wear, donate and recycle.

Walking the talk.


  • http://www.weardonaterecycle.org/
  • http://www.smartasn.org/
  • Main image courtesy http://www.charterrecycling.com/recycling-facts/how-to-recycle/
  • Other images courtesy pixabay.com

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