Hey, Jennifer Jarland! What Should I Do With Old Clothes and Shoes?

Hey, Jennifer Jarland! What Should I Do With Old Clothes and Shoes?

textile recyling

Hey, Jennifer Jarland! What Am I Supposed to Do With Unwanted Clothes and Shoes?

Jennifer Says …

It’s nearly time to start packing up the sweaters and bringing out the sandals. With this crazy back-and-forth weather, you may have already begun digging into the spring-wear.

As you begin the sorting process, it is a great opportunity to pass on garments and shoes that haven’t been worn this season. Yes, even those old favorites that you used to wear every week but haven’t worn for years now. You can pass them on for someone else to love!

Textiles is the catch-all word for clothes, linens, curtains and blankets — basically anything made of cloth. The businesses that collect textiles generally take clothes, shoes, accessories (like purses, belts, hats, scarves) and linens (bedding, blankets, towels and curtains.) There is a list of textile recyclers and more information on the Kane County Recycles Textiles page.

According to the U.S. EPA, a whopping 85 percent of all discarded textiles — 11 million tons — are sent to U.S. landfills every year. But clothes, footwear, accessories and linens are highly reusable, and if not usable then definitely recyclable! Thrift stores will take only reusable wearable textiles. Drop boxes will take it all, even if they are worn or torn. Once you deposit your textiles into a drop box, reusable clothes and shoes are sorted for reuse, damaged or worn textiles are turned into wiping rags or insulation blankets and anything beyond that level is sorted for use in fiber products.

Concerning non-profit vs. for-profit: While many people want to donate clothes for a good cause, it is important to note that in all cases the clothes are sorted, valued, distributed and sold again to market. Charitable organizations, such as Salvation Army and Good Will Industries, are fabulous companies, but frequently they are overwhelmed with the volume of donations and actually pass the materials on to (for-profit) textile companies for processing anyway.

USAgain (pronounced “use again”) and Credential Wholesalers provide convenient parking-lot drop-boxes near you. USAgain has a great location finder for drop-boxes throughout Kane County. Credential has three drop-boxes in Montgomery, Sugar Grove and Aurora.

Kane County will be recycling clothes, footwear, accessories and linens at the June Recycling Extravaganza again this year, along with many other items you may wish to recycle as you do your spring cleaning!

Please make sure that all textiles are clean and enclosed in a tied bag for drop off at any location. Shoes should be in pairs and can be in any condition.

More recycling information can be found at www.countyofkane.org/recycling.

Questions? Contact Kane County Recycling Coordinator Jennifer Jarland at 630-208-3841 or recycle@countyofkane.org.

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