Recycling Clothes For Cash

We’ve switched to reusable bags, segregated our packaging, and send off our paper and plastic for recycling. But what do we do with our used clothes? Some of us donate them, but at the rate the average American buys and discards fashion, donations simply can’t keep up with the volume of fabric being produced and thrown away.

One way to help curb the waste is recycling clothes for cash. It works in much the same way as selling old aluminum cans and plastic bottles—you send your used textiles off to a recycling plant, which then pays you by the weight. It’s no ticket to luxury; one can get about $1 per kilo accepted. But recycling was never about money—it’s about doing your part to help the environment, and getting in a bit of spring cleaning at the same time.

Textiles for recycling are classified according to type, color, and condition. Most of the time, clothes are still wearable, they are simply cleaned and donated to charity. The rest is what gets reused or recycled. Some fabrics are combed out and combined with other textiles to create a new cloth, which is then made into new clothes. Several designers have picked up on the trend and come up with clothes that don’t even look recycled—and even if you knew, they’re stylish enough that it doesn’t really matter.

Other textiles are shredded and used to fill mattresses or furniture. These are usually the ones that are too small to be processed or don’t have the right composition. They don’t make hotel-grade pillows, but they make serviceable ones where there would otherwise just be waste.

Heavier materials such as leather and carpeting also fall under textile, but don’t undergo the same processes. For one thing, there are usually other materials, such as rubber and metal, mixed into the item. This means they have to be separated manually for the textile itself to be used. If you have old shoes and upholstered furniture to donate, separate them from your clothing to make sure they get processed properly.

Some would argue that textile recycling isn’t recycling per se, since they all eventually end up in the trash. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency considers the practice a diversion rather than recycling. But definitions aside, recycling clothes for cash is a much better way to get rid of old possessions, and help the planet while you’re at it.

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