Discarded clothing, footwear, carpets, sheets, and towels take up a significant amount of space in our landfills, and many of us buy more than we really need. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 17 million tons of textiles were produced in 2018, which represents 5.8 percent of the total municipal solid waste generated that year. Once these textiles end up in the landfill, they slowly decompose and release greenhouse gases—like carbon dioxide and methane—which greatly contribute to global warming.
Any time that we generate trash, such as textiles, there is a risk that it can end up as litter on our roads, even if you had the best intention of disposing of it properly. Litter can clog the storm drains, which can lead to flooding on our roadways, and may eventually end up in our waterways. If you have a lot of old t-shirts and fabric lying around, think twice before throwing them away! Here are 5 ways you can use your old fabric and avoid taking them to the trash.
As trends continue to change, you may want to get rid of your old clothes to bring new ones in. Instead of dumping them, upcycle them for a fresh new look! Add a little bit of color with some tie-dye or cut it up for a new fit. For instructions on how you can create new items with your old t-shirts, visit check out these ideas!
Toys for your pet
Make a toy with some repurposed fabric for all of your furry friends. Turning your old clothes into toys is cost effective and will save you a trip to the pet store, which means you’re saving gas money, too! What makes it even better? Your pet’s new toys already smell like their favorite human! See the different kinds of toys you can make for your pet here: 5 Different DIY No Sew T-shirt Dog Toys.
Even if your old clothes are no longer wearable, you can still use them as rags! It’s always good to have some extra fabric lying around, just in case you need to wipe up a spill or get rid of some dust. They’re better for the environment than disposable paper towels or wipes, and are easy to clean! Keep a stash of fabric rags nearby when you’re doing your weekly chores and then just wash and reuse them the next time you have a mess to clean up!
Old bath towels and washcloths can also be repurposed as cleaning rags, or used for your pet! You can cut out the good sections of bathroom linens and upcycle them into items such as these DIY cotton pads.
Donate or Swap
Reducing consumption and avoiding fast fashion are the first steps to reducing the amount of trash in our landfills. But if you’re ready to say goodbye to your old clothes and other items around the house, consider donating them or giving them to someone else who might still be able to get some use out of it. Make sure that any items you choose to donate are in good condition. Plan a clothing swap with friends, or a trip to a second-hand store. These are fun group activities that will help minimize your textile footprint on the earth. If your sheets and towels are looking a little ragged, consider donating them to your local pet shelter.
Have your clothes and other fabrics passed the point of no return? Think again! Most of these can be taken to clothing stores to be recycled and made into new items. In an effort to set off their carbon footprints, some fashion brands have established in-store recycling programs and may even provide recycling incentives!