What's the Best Way to Recycle Old Clothes?

Mr. Green gets to the bottom of it

By Bob Schildgen

April 30, 2018



Hey Mr. Green!

I have a bag of old clothes. Delaware Solid Waste Authority no longer accepts these, and other companies in New Castle County have said no. Advice? 

—Tom Lefferts in Newark, Delaware

Your concern is understandable, because the average U.S. citizen throws away a staggering 68 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually, adding up to around 11 million tons. Only about 15 percent of this mass gets recycled, which seems like a colossal—and disgraceful—waste. 

While it is true that recycling centers in Delaware no longer take fabrics, you can still donate used clothing and textiles to outlets such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent De Paul, and Savers. The trade organization Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) collects the textiles, sorts them to find what is still wearable, and makes use of unwearable items by cutting them into wiping cloths or grinding them into fiber to manufacture stuffing, insulation, and carpet underlayment. 

Visit Earth911 to see if there are any other places in your area that redeem old clothes.