What do you do with your old clothing? The too-tight jeans, the moth-eaten sweater, and what about that dreaded holey underwear?
While shopping at and donating your old clothing to resale shops is a good idea that I have suggested before, they do not take damaged clothing. My youngest daughter spent an entire morning giving me ideas for recycling all our clothes. I hope her inspiration also inspires you with some uses for your clothing which is too used to be sold at the second-hand shops.
Did you know you can use old 100 percent cotton clothes, especially white clothing with no dyes, in your compost pile? The process of composting is the breaking down by bacteria, mixtures of nitrogen-rich materials called “greens” with carbon-rich materials called “browns.” Examples of greens that are nitrogen rich would be freshly cut grass, used coffee grounds, seaweed, spent flower blooms, tea leaves or vegetables, and peelings. Examples of browns that are carbon rich would be paper, fall leaves, straw, sawdust, shredded newspaper, shredded cotton, or woodchips.
Crafting and cleaning with your shredded clothing are excellent ideas and will keep those old clothes out of landfills. Below are just a few ideas you could do this year with your old clothing that might make a real difference for the Earth:
- Cut long strips for rag rugs
- Cut small strips for tomato staking and other garden needs
- Socks, underwear and soft fleece fabrics make excellent dust rags for cleaning your home
- All fabrics make good quilt material
- Make batting and backing from old towels and shredded clothing
- Create pet beds
- Worn tube socks cut up into small squares make excellent fingernail polish removers
- Local animal shelters can use kitty cushions or puppy pads
- Old nylons are perfect for pillow stuffing
- Shredded fabric tied in bunches makes fun chew toys for pets
- Stuff long fabric tubes with shredded fabric and use as a draught stopper for beneath doors
- Use rags to strip and paint furniture and as garage hand towels
The clothing that Goodwill deems not suitable for resale is cut up into industrial rags and sold to textile recycling companies. They shred the material for many purposes including batting and industrial insulation such as padding for mailing envelopes. You can look in the trunk of most cars and you’ll see fiber insulation made of shredded fabric. Natural fabrics, such as cotton and wool, are easier and more profitable to sell for recycling purposes. The March of Dimes sells old clothing for recycling the cloth, buttons, and zippers.
In 2006 the Cotton Incorporated company ran a nationwide promotion to recycle denim. They got college students to donate over 14,000 pieces. Denim is an amazingly versatile cotton product because of its strength and natural content and is now being remade into home insulation, composting material and many other products. To learn more about denim recycling, go to Cotton Incorporated’s Web site promoting their recycling program: www.accesscotton.com/Cotton-Blue-To-Green.
Please keep your clothing products out of landfills and be good to the Earth and your garden!