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Sunday, April 26, 2009

5 Ways to Reuse and Recycle Your Old Clothes

Seven percent of the trash piled up in our landfills is old clothes, worn-out bedding, and outgrown shoes.  Instead of adding to that heap of everlasting waste, find ways to reduce and recycle when you clean out your closet.  From creative projects to beneficial recycling programs, there are plenty of ways to bring new life to your old clothes.
  1. Turn your old clothes into toys and play props.  Get the kids involved and transform sleeves, pant legs, and socks into puppets and simple dolls.  Reuse buttons for eyes and scraps for stuffing.  Some old clothing, especially work uniforms and accessories, can turn into hours of fun as imaginative dress-up props.  If you don't have children at home, talk to a local daycare center or kindergarten class to find a recipient.  
  2. Swap for something new.  Attend a Swap-o-rama-rama event with your old clothes and learn how to create your own recycled clothing.  Started in 2005 by Wendy Tremayne, the organization is much more than a clothing swap - after the swap, there are DIY workshops that help swappers make new creations.
  3. Give them away.  Outgrown and unwanted clothing that is still in good condition can be reused by someone else.  Give children's clothes to another mom or donate your items to a local thrift shop or charity.  Evening gowns, bridesmaids' dresses, and other formal wear can make the prom more exciting for someone when you donate them to a local organization like Gown Town - allowing area teens to 'shop' for their free prom dress.
  4. Recycle your worn-out clothes.  Textile recycling bins are being considered at several local landfills and clothing recycling events are held in a variety of locations throughout the year.  Patagonia accepts several types of materials through their clothing recycling program.  If you're having trouble finding a place to accept your old garments for recycling, most nonprofit organizations that take clothing donations will send unwearable items to a manufacturer that recycles the fabric.
  5. Make them into something new.  Old t-shirts and worn out socks make excellent cleaning rags, but there are plenty of more creative things you can do with your old clothes.  Use scraps of baby clothes and special outfits to make a quilt; turn old denim into a rustic throw pillow; let the kids help turn old clothing into doll clothes.  A number of recycled clothing projects were included here.
Whether you donate, recreate, or recycle it, there are plenty of options to keep your old clothes out of the landfill.  Share your favorite ways to reuse or recycle clothing in the comments!
Image: miltedflower via Flickr

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