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Guide to Textile Recycling

Aug 25, 2014

By Rebecca Turygan

With summer winding down, it’s time to start thinking about cleaning out those closets to make room for fall clothes. For many of us, this process results in a pile of clothing that either doesn’t fit or we just don’t want anymore.  

Instead of packing them up and letting bags of clothes take up space in your home, why not recycle or donate those clothes through a local charity or textile recycling company?



Donating or recycling clothing has two major benefits. The first is by recycling your unwanted clothing you prevent textiles from going into the landfill. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, Americans only recycle or donate 15 percent of their used clothing. The other 85 percent (or about 10.5 million tons a year) ends up in landfills.  

The second benefit is that the proceeds from your donation can go to a great cause. There are many great organizations that accept clothing donations in the Atlantic County area to improve the lives of others (see map below).

Before you head to a local donation or recycling site, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

1 - Make sure you’re only donating items that the organization accepts. We’ve all seen drop off bins overflowing with items, and it is not uncommon to see televisions and furniture sitting next to textile donation bins.  Many of these organizations are not equipped to handle those types of items. If you have non-textile items that you’d like to donate to a good cause, please consider a local Habitat for Humanity ReStoreGoodwill Store, Salvation Army, or ARC of Atlantic County. Another tricky item is shoes.  Some of the textile drop-offs accept shoe donations, but many do not.  Please make sure to check with the charity before leaving shoes at the site.  

2 - Clothing does not always need to be in perfect condition to be recycled. Donated clothes that are not reused as clothing can be sold and used to make other materials such as carpet padding and rags. Finding a home for ripped or stained clothing can be as easy as calling up your local donation site to see if they sell scraps.  Many mechanics can reuse scraps as rags and you can also use your scraps for cleaning or in other DIY projects

We’ve compiled a map of drop-off locations in Atlantic County that will allow you to research the various charity organizations and locations so you can pick the one that best suits your needs. (If your organization is not listed, please let us know.)  Click here to see the map.

For a deeper look into the world of textile recycling, read the article, “ Where Does Discarded Clothing Go,” that was recently published in The Atlantic