Besides clothing, such as shirts, pants, dresses and shorts – textiles include bedding, backpacks, curtains, towels, stuffed animals, gloves, belts, ties, purses, handbags, shoes, slippers, undergarments and even holey socks! Many organizations will accept textiles that you may consider unwearable, like holey socks or ripped t-shirts, and recycle them to make other products such as wiping rags, car seat and pillow stuffing, and household insulation. The key is getting the message out to communities and residents - don’t judge - just donate!
Unfortunately, only 15% of textiles are donated for reuse or recycling in the United States according to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART). A portion of these textiles are sold by charities locally or distributed overseas to be resold as usable clothing while the clothing or other textiles that are not in good condition are reused as rags or recycled into fibers.
In Connecticut, we dispose of about 96,500 tons of textiles every year in our waste-to energy facilities. This costs Connecticut municipalities and taxpayers close to $5.7 million in unnecessary disposal tipping fees (calculated using an average conservative tipping fee of $60 per ton). We have a significant opportunity to save our communities disposal tipping fees, increase economic value, and reduce environmental impact by recovering more textiles!