The Environmental Protection Agency estimates 2.5 billion pounds of textiles are tossed out every year. Clothes get stained, torn, or simply no longer fit, and it’s easy to throw them out to make space for new clothes.

Most people don’t think about other options when it comes to discarding their clothes. They might be aware of recycling options, but they don’t fully understand the impact it can have on their community.

It’s important to increase awareness on how recycling clothes can help families in the community, create jobs, and improve the environment.

How Clothing Recycling Works

People can take their old clothes to pick-up bins and organizations, or have them picked up right at their home. Clothes are then sorted depending on their condition. Thrift stores will take slightly used clothes to sell as-is, while other businesses will use the rest in their products.

Community Benefits

Recycled clothing provides affordable, high-quality outfits for people in need. It can help the struggling military veteran get the clothes he needs for an office job; or the single mom who needs more clothes for her children to wear to school.

More recycled clothes also means more jobs. Consignment stores, charities and businesses that reuse textiles will all be able to grow. Products that use recycled clothing include:

  • Wiping cloths
  • Home insulation
  • Paving materials
  • Carpet padding
  • Baseball filling
  • Jewelry box lining

Textile recycling businesses currently account for about 17,000 jobs in the United States. Many of these businesses are family owned.

Environmental Benefits

Part of helping a community means protecting the land. Discarded clothing accounts for some landfill space. This clothing can take hundreds of years to decompose, cluttering an already limited space.

What’s more, creating one single t-shirt requires a lot of natural resources. At least 700 gallons of water are required to create one pound of cotton. There is also the cost to run the factories, the harmful chemicals used, and the gasoline needed to distribute everything.

Working Together

Instead of each person putting about 68 pounds of clothing a year in the garbage, those clothes can help individuals in a community, create jobs, open up landfills and limit the amount of natural resources being used.