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Let's Talk Textile Recycling


Photo by Becca McHaffie on Unsplash

What’s a textile again? It's a type of cloth or woven fabric. This includes pants, shirts, rugs, table cloths, rags, towels, and more. It can be hard to find sustainable ways to get rid of old textiles, since most thrift stores and places like Goodwill and Plato’s Closet only accept clothes in good condition, without any missing buttons or stains. What you probably didn’t know is that bins labeled for recycling textiles allow you to donate stained rugs, shirts, and socks with holes, as well as items that are in pretty good condition, but cannot be donated to thrift stores. 

Textile recycling is not as rare as you might think. Many schools and counties have places where you can donate old textiles. At the College of Charleston, there’s a new Green Bin located behind Addlestone on the Pitt Street side where clothes and shoes can be donated. The bin at the College of Charleston only accepts clothes and shoes, but there other textile recycling bins that accept other fabric items. 

a person sits crosslegged on the ground folding laundry, including jeans and shirts which sit in piles before them Sarah Brown | Unsplash

What happens once they’re donated? The old textiles are sorted to determine what can be sold in clothing markets abroad, patched up and sold, re-purposed, or used for insulation. By utilizing textile donation bins, all of the clothes that might otherwise have been thrown in the landfill bin serve a purpose in other markets. Re-purposing old clothes is increasingly important since about 85% of textile waste ends up in the landfill instead of being recycled, taking years to biodegrade. 


Think before you throw. A huge way we can eliminate landfill waste is by donating gently used clothes, recycling old textiles, and shopping at second-hand stores when possible.