Whole Living Daily

Econundrum: Donating Ripped Clothing

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Got a green dilemma? Ask me! I'll be answering a new question each week.

Q: How do I throw away clothing that's too stained or worn to be donated? —Dara Spangler, Portland, OR

A: I admire your scruples, but if the fabric’s clean and the stains aren’t too vivid, clothing is almost never too worn to be donated. Goodwill, Salvation Army, and other thrift shops and charities are often happy to sort through laundered donations and decide for themselves whether clothing is unwearable. Call them and ask whether they sell the dregs to rag collectors. Old fabric, like old newspaper, is increasingly being reused as greener insulation in homes.

Remember the rag rug and patchwork quilt? They’re still around. Schools and community centers that give classes in fabric arts may welcome donations. Even I, the least handy person on the planet, cut squares from a worn-out favorite shirt to patch my torn chinos. You can also offer to give away old clothes at Freecycle.

Or it’s all the better for reusing as rags! I find that I never have enough of these. Why buy dust cloths? As Whole Living editor Alex Postman discovered when giving up paper towels, it’s great to have rags handy for wiping up spills.

Mindy Pennybacker is Whole Living’s “Econundrums” columnist. See her answers to reader questions and ask your own here.  She is also editor of GreenerPenny.com and author of Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices.

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Comments (5)

  • Hello:
    I am an independent children's bookseller, pediatrician, and father of 3 daughters. We have recently launched an online gift site (mostly books) for babies and kids under 3, http://www.bluemanateeboxes.com. It addresses (among other things) the eco-issue of packaging of children's gifts. Our boxes are 99% compostable, locally-sourced, and most of all, usable, leveraging the fact that when young kids receive a gift, they tend to like the box best anyway - for good reason, as it's how they explore their world. Via a number of means, we are encouraging families to use their gift box as a tool for old-fashioned, creative play, which also happens to be very educational and bonding. So many gifts are excessively packed, with piles of plastic, styrofoam, etc. - if not the gift itself - ending up in the garbage. We invite you to check out our site and share your feedback, and spread the word. We'd also be happy to send a sample box for review, if you wish. We have a themed EcoBox, by the way.
    Thank you and all best, Dr. John Hutton - founder, blue manatee boxes/blue manatee children's bookstore and decafe'

  • Dr. Hutton: How does your advertisement relate to the donation of used clothing? Please elaborate, I'd like to help!

  • Used clothing: There are several ways to recycle clothing--all of them time consuming. 100% wool clothing without glue backing can be hooked into traditional hooked rugs using monk's cloth, scottish burlap or linen. (Look for a local rug hooking teacher to donate fabric http://www.mcgown) Another way to recycle fabrics is weave them. Best is woven not knitted fabric. 100% wool or cotton is best. Local weavers may accept your donations of clean fabric. You can also recycle fabric into quilts (cotton fabric--men's shirts, children's clothes, etc), stuffed blankets. Fabric can also be used to stuff toys and dolls. The bottom line to recycle clothing--care needs to be taken in its purchase. Avoid buying certain fibers. Second, try making some things from your older fibers. The library has great books on creative projects.

  • I like to decorate mason jars, boxes, towels etc. The fabric that is often used is pieces that I like from old clothes. I have made new cushions for my livingroom. They are stuffed with all kinds of fabric from old clothes and leftover sewing projects. To make something old new applique is always a good stain hider if it's in the right spot. I also keep some clothes for painting, coloring my hair - the messy stuff so I don't wreck what I care about.

  • It would not possess said it any kind of diffrent. indeed bookmarked

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