After I retired, I became the senior citizen version of Marie Kondo. I cleaned out every closet in the house – and my poor husband had to pat me on the back and praise me for my outstanding organizational efforts upon returning from work. I had no trouble shredding years of documents, giving away office supplies and extra blankets. But the clothes! That was another story.
For years I have taken tattered sheets and towels to the animal shelter. Clothing that was in good shape went to the Goodwill. But I’ve always just thrown away clothes that were so ratty I assumed no one wanted them. And I never gave underwear away – who would want someone else’s used panties or boxers? Bras? I assumed that there was no good place for those things to go, so they went into the trash.
Guess What? I was wrong!!! I made a call, and SURPRISE!!! THE GOODWILL ACCEPTS ANY CLOTHING DONATION, EVEN STUFF THAT IS IN TATTERS! They recycle!!! YAY! The “unsellable” clothes (think stained or ripped clothing or underwear with only one thread of fabric left in the seat) are auctioned to bulk buyers. Just be sure NOT to include fabric that has toxic waste on it – paint thinner, motor oil – things like that. Also, be aware that every Goodwill outlet operates independently. Although the national organization promotes recycling, not every store may participate. Your best bet is to ask the manager at your local store about their recycling policy.
So what happens to the clothes that are deemed “unsellable”? After they are sold in bulk, those items that are still usable generally go overseas for sale. Other items are sold for insulation, cushion stuffing, carpet padding – things like that. There are also groups in the United States that are recycling fabric by making it into new fabric. This is VERY interesting, but I couldn’t find anyone in California doing this. I am going to continue looking into this. I would rather recycle fabric here than ship it overseas; I just wonder if it goes into a landfill somewhere in Africa.
If you are interested in recycling bras, remember that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Make October your month to clean out your bra drawer and donate to THE BRA RECYCLERS www.brarecycling.com. This is an Arizona based non-profit organization that distributes gently used bras to support families and communities in transition. I used this recycling opportunity to create a celeBRAtion for a group of former colleagues. We had a great time and collected over 40 BRAS!!
We can ALL be zero textile waste households with minimal effort!!! GO US!!! Let’s all work together to keep that 5% out of our landfills!!!
* For those who do not know, Goodwill is a non-profit organization that has been in existence for over 100 years. Their mission is to provide employment, job training and placement and other community based programs for people with barriers to employment.