What do you do with an item, like a t-shirt or a towel, when you no longer want it and when it's not good enough to donate? Do you just throw it away? Sometimes this feels like this is the only option. However, when you throw away clothing in the garbage, it can contribute to harmful greenhouse methane gas emissions and leach toxic chemicals into the groundwater and our soil. Throwing these items away is also a missed opportunity, as many products can be recycled into new materials, much like food packaging can be recycled.
Thankfully, more and more consumers are utilizing take-back services, which allow used products to be recycled to give the product’s materials new life, which keeps them out of landfills. Some take-back schemes include bins in retail stores where customers can drop their unwanted items off. Other services encourage customers to mail items in. Whatever the option, take-back services make it easy for you to have more control of your carbon footprint.
If you’re looking to try this out yourself, here are some of the current most popular options that we came across in the United States. Helpsy
Helpsy will guide you through either shipping or dropping off your used clothes to be reused or recycled. As the largest textile collection company in the US Northeast, they’ve worked with brands like Tanger and Reebok to collect as many as 25 million pounds of clothes last year alone.PackMee
PackMee offers a free shipping label to send off a box of textiles to be recycled. You can fill a box with old clothes, towels, and household goods, or even shoes – any textiles you no longer want but don’t want to send to a landfill. Then, you drop off the box and PackMee takes care of the rest. Gifted products will be either recycled or reused, reducing waste. Plus, you’ll help curb exhaust emissions, because PackMee taps into pre-existing logistics routes rather than driving additional miles.Save Your Wardrobe
Save Your Wardrobe helps you digitize your clothing collection so you can see exactly what you own, make better use of it, and keep it in tip-top shape. The app can direct you to eco-friendly dry cleaning services, repair services, and upcycling options to help extend the life of your clothes. When you’re ready to let them go, Save Your Wardrobe can help you choose the best local recycling option.TerraCycle
TerraCycle is known for helping consumers recycle hard-to-recyclable items like clothes, hair products, coffee k-cups, cigarettes, face masks, and just about anything else you can imagine. Through the company’s Zero Waste Box program you can order a recycling box to fill with used products and send back. TerraCycle will then handle the logistics to ensure the materials are properly recycled and given a new life. You can also physically drop off your used products instead of shipping them, as TerraCycle also has a series of drop-off points in several locations across many countries.
Recycling and reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be complicated. As consumers continue to show a demand for these types of services, the variety of options will only continue to increase. Say ‘goodbye’ to clothes in landfills, and ‘hello’ to giving products a second life!By Kristiane Davidson, Impact Lead