Used clothing is certainly a popular item on Kansas City Freecycle ™. However, some members might be at a loss when it comes to clothing that’s so stained, so ripped, so beat that they’d feel embarrassed to gift it to fellow Freecycle ™ members. Not to worry! Grist Magazine’s advice columnist Umbra tackles the issue and comes up with some helpful solutions:
I haven’t tried this, but the first idea that springs to mind is using natural fabric in the garden, either composting it or using it for mulch as one would use a burlap sack. Another idea I found on the worldwide webaroo is to call around to animal shelters to see if they could use your large rags for bedding or cleanup. [...]
It seems we have been ignorant about the true nature of textile recycling in the United States. I thought, and you thought, rags were landfilled in the modern throwaway society. Nope. There are domestic and foreign markets for our discards, to be reworn by people, or used as rags, or formed into recycled-content textiles. We don’t get to these markets through our curbside recycling, but through donation sites which — on the surface — appear to take only our usable clothing. Goodwill, for instance, bales unusable clothing and sends it for recycling and reuse, which helps support their programs. Other similar organizations in your area may also do this. I recommend calling before assuming that they are prepared to take your discards, in case a local business is too small to broker them.
Your discards will either be reused by poor people in faraway countries, or shredded to fill car seats, or used as industrial-type wipes, or reworked into textiles. By the way, shredded used textile material that’s ready to be integrated into a new item is called shoddy. Almost as good as cullet!
If anything, this just goes to show that no item is beyond Freecycle ™. Before trashing your next batch of so-called garbage, try to find it a new life on Freecycle ™ – you might just be surprised!
(You can read the entire column here.)