Three Ways to Spring Clean Out Your Closet

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Now that the first day of spring has come and passed, you might be thinking about spring cleaning, especially if you’re stuck at home self-isolating to help lessen the spread of COVID-19. If you think of household cleaners and spray bottles when you think of spring cleaning, then you’re probably not alone, but now is also a great time to clean out your closet and get rid of clothes you don’t need – or, more appropriately for the season, “spring clean out your closet.” Here are three ways to recycle your clothes and spring clean out your closet.

1. Find a textile recycling bin near you

After you’ve gone through your closet and made a pile of clothes you no longer need, you can make sure they don’t go into the trash – and, therefore, landfill, where they can produce the ultra-strong greenhouse gas methane – by depositing them at a textile recycling bin near you. You’ve likely seen these bins randomly around town, especially if you live in an urban setting: They’re the giant sidewalk or parking lot bins with the huge handles and the large text that encourages you to drop off shoes or clothes. The people who manage these bins often accept clothes in any condition, which can make this clothes recycling option more appealing than hauling your big pile to the nearby thrift store or clothing trade store.

2. Turn spring cleaning out your closet into more spring cleaning

If you’ve got an old tank top or pair of shorts lying around that you just can’t stand to wear, you can easily fold it up, douse it in your cleaning solution of choice, and use it as a rag in your ongoing spring cleaning tasks. That stained racerback tank isn’t going outside with you, so you might as well use it to get that annoying scuff mark out of your wall or evenly cover your kitchen table with your disinfectant of choice. Recycling your old clothes as rags also reduces the number of disposable wipes or paper towels that go into the trash – and you can also use clothes to divert items from landfill in other ways.

3. Compost your clothes

If and only if your clothes are made entirely from natural fibers such as cotton, silk, linen, wool, and cashmere, they can be composted. If you already compost at home, then simply rip or cut your old natural-fiber clothes into many small pieces and add them to your composting pile. If you don’t compost at home, then after cutting up your clothes, search for local composting groups in your area and schedule a pick-up or drop-off. 

Note that you can never compost synthetic fibers such as nylon, polyester, and acrylics, even if your clothes are mostly cotton and just a small amount of polyester. Additionally, a cotton t-shirt with graphics screen-printed onto it may include synthetic materials in the graphic portion that disqualify the item from composting. If you have questions, ask your local composting group.

How do you recycle clothes and spring clean out your closet? Share your tips in the comments!

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