Green Right Now: Textile Recycling

Published 08/28 2014 04:07PM

Updated 08/28 2014 05:22PM

The next time you go through your closet to sift out old clothes, you likely won't have to throw them in the garbage. They probably can be given another life.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on average people throw out about 70 pounds of clothing a year.

That often heads straight to the landfill.

"Approximately, five percent of the waste that goes into the landfill can be contributed to clothing and household textiles," said Debra Smith, Broome County's Materials Recovery Manager.

Textiles include clothes, blankets, sheets, curtains, and carpeting.

In the past, second hand stores have accepted clothing that is in good condition and can be resold or given away. However, the market for used textiles is growing.

"There is a variety of companies now who have placed their collection bins throughout the county and quite a few of them will take the old textiles, the sheets, the various categories and even damaged or stained clothing and then they will take it and from there it gets handled in a multitude of ways," said Smith.

Textiles in good condition can be sold, given out or sent overseas.

"Other materials that can't be reused, one of the main uses for them is they are made into rags or wipes and those are used in the automobile industry or custodial or janitorial services," said Smith.

Textile fibers can also be reprocessed and used as filling for pillows or stuffed animals, and even for insulation. Some companies even let organizations take a certain percentage of the profits that result from collection bins.

You can visit and click on the recycling link to check out a reuse guide to find a list of outlets that accept used textiles.

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