Where to dispose old clothes?

August 29, 2022
Furniture waits for shipment

Maybe you've done this yourself. You have clothing you want to get rid of. You sort out the stuff to donate. And the stuff that is just ratty beyond belief, well, you just toss it. Bret Jaspers, from member station WSKG in Binghamton, N.Y, reports that that might not be the best strategy if you care about the planet.

BRET JASPERS, BYLINE: Sara Hopkins wants her clothes to have a second chance, or in this case, her husband's clothes. These are destined for a clothing drop box.

SARA HOPKINS: We've got some polo shirts. They're not in terrible condition. Like, the fabric might be a little faded. Some of the hems of the jeans have been worn. But some people that wouldn't bother - or they could hem it up if they wanted.

JASPERS: But there are clothes she doesn't donate.

HOPKINS: And I'm honestly not sure the best way to get rid of ratty old clothes. Like, if it's old gym clothes with holes in them, like, I don't know how to recycle those. So they usually end up going in the garbage.

JASPERS: It turns out, a lot of ratty old clothes and plenty of not-so-ratty ones don't end up at Goodwill or The Salvation Army. They find their way into the garbage.

ANNIE LEONARD: Tons - and I actually mean tons - of textiles get tossed every year.

JASPERS: Annie Leonard is the executive director of Greenpeace and wrote the book, "The Story Of Stuff."

LEONARD: A very small percentage of that is recovered, only about 15 percent.

JASPERS: Yep, just 15 percent of textiles are recovered each year according to the EPA. Textiles as a category includes things like shoes, carpeting and stuffed animals. But clothes are a big chunk. And it's a problem. Leonard says the more we discard, the more we buy. And the production of so many clothes hurts the environment.

LEONARD: So the more that we can reuse and recycle stuff, the less we have to make new stuff. And there's just huge environmental benefits to be saved there.

JASPERS: One potential savings, carbon emissions - the EPA estimates that what we do donate each year, that 15 percent, is like taking over a million cars off the road.

GREG ERNST: We're down into kind of more the active face now.

JASPERS: Greg Ernst is looking at the exposed part of the landfill he runs for Cortland County in upstate New York.

ERNST: From where we're just standing right here, you can see there's a couple couch cushions. There's a piece of rug. You know, there's an old shirt over there, a rag of some sort, some blankets. That's typical of what we see of the textiles.

JASPERS: Ernst says about 5 to 10 percent of what they get at the landfill is textiles. They'll occasionally see a big load of clothes when someone's moving or cleaning out a house after a death in the family. Ernst isn't too worried about organic textiles, like wool and cotton. But he says synthetic fibers will be with us a long time.

ERNST: Man-made materials is not something that Mother Nature has created and necessarily equipped to deal with as a disposal or a waste item.

JASPERS: So Mother Nature may need an assist here from people. Some apparel companies have take-back programs. And there's an existing pipeline for your ratty old gym clothes. Jackie King runs the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association. Her members buy left-over clothes from places like Goodwill. She says a lot of what gets dropped off at a thrift store never goes on the rack.

JACKIE KING: So there is an 80 percent that's not, you know, being displayed that is what our members actually will purchase from the charities or thrift stores.

JASPERS: Some of the clothes get resold overseas. Some get sold to heavy industry as wiping rags. Others get shredded and used as insulation or stuffing for couches and cars. King says your ratty old drop-offs simply have to be clean and dry. For NPR News, I'm Bret Jaspers in Binghamton, N.Y.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

how much system 8 powerball how development relates to how you learn who project in india who engineer architect who up start whos the manufacturer who is engineering explained the man company best products why workers go on strike why project based learning is important where is advantage solutions headquarters how london bridge fell when equipment is sold for cash when technology and humanity cross essay how many design patterns are there in java when project tiger was launched how often does technology fail where to study engineering in south africa which project cars game is the best how to explain a teacher when manager mariah pitner how business works how much workers compensation insurance where product key windows 10 which project element is an accessibility feature how many product searches start on amazon what teaching jobs pay the most how much technology is too much for a child where to set up an ira where is primitive technology from which workers are designated as special risk whom comma how manufacture oxygen why system ui isn't responding how often technological hazard happen is it solution to or solution for where to donate technology near me what solution best completes the chart what are the 5 stages of development whose forest ncert solutions how much project engineer make how workers compensation insurance works where are you from teaching ideas when system ui has stopped why solution is a homogeneous mixture whose products does ocado sell where to find device id on android why technology is good how often is continuously which tech field is right for me how products branded from where to start business when london bridge was built how long device ban snapchat which science degree is easiest whose product with 7 is 154 where london is situated why tech sales where to develop film in toronto how london underground was built who solution definition who technical officer how product and engineering work together what system is the liver in which workers does cosatu represent what solutions are hypertonic which workers are covered by unions when startup valuation what london broil whom comma where to develop photos near me whose father was socrates system whose transfer function how much product photography cost when system restore doesn't work how often processing solution should be replenished which science major is the easiest how science goes wrong what startup programs do i need who's are whose what equipment is required to be on a trailer what technology was used to build the pyramids what development accounted for the failure weegy is it solution to or solution for which teaching strategies can be used by teachers how to find business information on a company how much science diet to feed puppy how much equipment has lost who is the greatest entrepreneur where to develop photos near me whose company is google entrepreneur who started with nothing why project managers are important startup who ends up with dalmi where to manage passwords in chrome where is mondo from project runway where to learn system design what technological era are we in where do thoughts come from science where to manufacture plastic products what management is where to project voice which london airport is closest to london how equipment works anesthesia machine where london is what is included in a roadmap how many design styles are there how often is frequent how far technology has advanced how when and where solutions when technology fails meme who manufacturers where to find system preferences on mac who is the product beneficial for how far technology has come why science of reading why science is important who company owns most funeral homes
Source: www.npr.org
Share this Post