NEW YORK STATE – Residents and businesses donate, recycle or sell used clothing and other textiles through charities, reuse centers, community trash cans and online or physical consignment shops.
It’s awesome! But did you know that each year, New York State residents and businesses throw away nearly 1.4 billion pounds of textiles, including clothing, shoes, belts, hats, handbags , curtains, towels, linens and other linens that could be reused or recycled?
In the United States, textile waste is one of the fastest growing waste streams; the average person throws away 81 pounds of clothes each year.
While we recycle around 15% of post-consumer textiles, this means that 85% of our used clothing and other textiles end up as waste in landfills and incinerators.
The majority of these materials can be reused or recycled, providing social, environmental and economic benefits.
The second-hand market for textiles has grown rapidly, and there are also new outlets, such as online consignment stores and repurposed gear stores for outerwear and gear, etc.
The Benefits of Reusing and Recycling Textiles
Environmentally, textile recycling reduces the number of valuable materials going to landfills and incinerators. It reduces greenhouse gases; greenhouse gas emissions related to textile production amount to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent gas. That’s more than the emissions from international flights and shipping combined.
Recycling saves natural resources, including water and oil; and reduces toxins from pesticides, herbicides, dyes and other harsh chemicals used in textile production. Cotton, for example, is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world.
There are also many economic benefits. Textile recycling creates jobs. The potential market value of all these discarded materials is nearly $130 million. If these materials were recovered for reuse and recycling, instead of being thrown away, it would create more than 1,000 jobs.
Keeping used textiles out of the trash reduces disposal costs for local governments, businesses and residents.
Recycling allows valuable materials to remain in the supply chain to create sustainable products.
What can I give?
It is estimated that 95% of all used clothing, shoes and other household fabric products, such as sheets, towels, curtains and pillowcases, can be recycled.
Even if the items are torn, stained, missing buttons, have broken zippers, etc., the fabric can still be recycled. As long as the items are dry and free of oil, grease and odor – not stained with solvents such as gasoline – the textiles can be recycled.
Items can be of any style, age or condition. Even stained or torn items can be recycled, but remember they must be dry.
Where can I take my textiles to reuse and recycle?
You can bring your reusable and recyclable clothing to:
drop off bins located throughout your community
private clothing recyclers
the local transfer station
special textile recycling events
Call first to make sure the facility is picking up.
You can also check the New York State Association for Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle website (see URL at end of article) for more locations.
What happens to textiles?
Nearly 100% of donated textiles are reused and recycled!
45% is reused as clothing.
20% is recycled into fibres.
30% is reused as wiping cloths.
What can’t I give?
No rugs, carpets or objects stained with blood or grease/oil, or moldy objects.
Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/100141.html