Threads and Fabric Recycling

Did you know that over 95 percent of the shoes, clothes, and linens that get thrown out could have been recycled? King County has a program called ‘Threadcycling’ that helps residents extend the use of these items so they are not wasted. Owen’s List can help you understand why it’s important to participate in this program and how you can do that.

Why threads shouldn’t go in the landfill

Because there is a better use of the natural resources when clothing, shoes, and linens are recycled or repurposed. By doing so, not only is there a less of a need for new material like cotton or rubber to be grown or processed but also for every 1,000 lbs of these items donated and recycled, two man-days of labor is generated, providing an opportunity for employment in the recycling industry.

Although threads and fabrics are not typically as harmful to the environment as other items that end up in landfills, this does not mean that they are entirely safe there either. These items decompose and produce landfill gas. In addition to being costly to ship to landfills, taking up land space, they produce toxic air pollutants that include methane and greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, both of which are damaging to the air. Essentially, by reducing the amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills could benefit the environment tremendously.

What happens when threads get recycled

Local partners sort through your threads and put into several different categories depending on their condition. At Threadcycling, clothes, shoes, and linens are accepted regardless of their state as long as they are not wet, mildewed, or contaminated.

What is great about recycling these items is that many other products can be made out of them, and these include: athletic equipment, pet bedding, insulation for automobiles and appliances, and even sound-proofing. Some can be resold and used as is, either in the U.S. or in other countries. If that is not possible, they are used as rags or recycled into new materials for insulation and stuffing.

45 percent of what is salvaged from the recycling of clothes, shoes, and linens gets reused or repurposed as secondhand clothing while 30 percent of it is recycled and converted to the items listed above. The other 20 percent undergoes a process that converts the items into fiber, which is can be used for carpet padding, home insulation, and raw material for automotive industries. Typically, only 5 percent ends up as waste.

Memorable Pickups

A Warmer Winter for Many Kids This Year
Over 500 Lbs of Threads Diverted from Landfills

How else can you help reduce threads waste

Consider whether the treads you are throwing away might still have life in them. There are many fine organizations in our community that collect threads and put them to good use. Owen’s List partners with many of these organizations and will introduce them to you in our newsletter.

Our Newsletter

Sign up to hear about our ideas for what you can do with textiles you no longer need. Sometimes this means ‘threadcycling’ them so they stay out of landfills, while other times it’s finding organizations in our community with specific needs for clothing and shoes you are no longer using.

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