Recycle, Don’t Throw Away Clutter
Netflix’s original series, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” has encouraged households to clear their closets of excess clothing and de-clutter their homes. But, what should the public do with the unwanted items? The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) urges consumers to “Donate, Recycle, Don’t Throw Away!”
“’Tidying Up’ has sparked much joy here at SMART,” says Jackie King, executive director of the association. “It’s encouraging for us to see thousands of households working to clear their clutter, but we want to ensure recyclable items are disposed of properly.”
The association advises more clutter can be recycled than you may think. For example, most textile items should not be thrown away. These textiles include not just clothing but also towels, bedding, curtains, purses, stuffed animals and more. As long as they are clean, dry and odor-free, meaning they are free of mold and have not been contaminated with solvent-type liquids such as Goof Off or gasoline, they have a use within the textile recycling industry.
According to SMART, the average U.S. citizen throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year, despite the fact 95 percent of them can be recycled. Of those 81 pounds, only a small portion are properly disposed of, leaving 85 percent, or 26 billion pounds annually destined to end up in landfills. Meanwhile, recycling textiles saves the environment by reducing greenhouse gases – the equivalent of removing 1.3 million cars from America’s highways per year.
To help reduce textile waste, SMART suggests looking for a clothing donation bin in your neighborhood. These donation bins are often managed by SMART members who follow a strict code of conduct and divert billions of pounds of used textiles and other household waste from landfills each year.
Additionally, SMART recommends checking with your favorite local charity or thrift store about collection locations where textiles can be dropped off. Organizations like Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent De Paul, Savers or other thrift stores will recycle any textile that is not sellable in their stores.
Businesses inspired by” Tidying Up” can also play a part in reducing the textile waste stream.
“Our SMART members assist in recycling large quantities of textiles like misprinted t-shirts and old linens from hospitals, prisons and hotels,” says King.
Established in 1932, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) is an international nonprofit trade association that strengthens the economic opportunities of its diverse membership by promoting the interdependence of the for-profit textile recycling industry segments and providing a common forum for networking, education and trade. SMART members use and convert recycled and secondary materials from used clothing, commercial laundries and non-woven, off spec material, new mills ends and paper from around the world. SMART member companies create thousands of jobs worldwide, proving each day you can make money by being socially responsible