13 Suggestions on What to Do with Tattered & Torn Clothes

Wondering what to do with old clothing that is ripped, stained or otherwise unable to donate/wear?

Melissa Weinberger of Easthampton writes, “I am about to throw a huge bag of old clothing into the garbage and wondering if there’s another way. We already use a lot of old t-shirts, etc. as rags, but this is stuff that seems headed for the landfill unless there’s another option.”

Thanks to Riché for recommending the short documentary, Secondhand (Pepe). “In this documentary about used clothing, the historical memoir of a Jewish immigrant rag picker intertwines with the present-day story of ‘pepe’ — secondhand clothing that flows from North America to Haiti. Secondhand (Pepe) animates the materiality of recycled clothes — their secret afterlives and the unspoken connections among people in an era of globalization.”

  • Jennifer Shiao Page writes, “I have the same conundrum, so am looking forward to hearing the ideas!”
  • Diane Kanzler writes, “Well, pure cotton and linen textiles can be composted. It takes awhile to compost, but it can be done. I’ve found it can take up to two years for cotton knits to compost fully, and often the nylon thread used to sew a cotton garment won’t compost and has to be pulled out of the compost. – The EPA has an interesting page on the topic of textile recycling: Textiles Common Wastes & Materials.
  • Susan Countryman writes, “If you sew you can repurpose the clothes into doll clothes, cool patches for jeans, throw pillows, etc.”
  • Michelle Harris Dzialo writes, “Give it to a quilter! All my grandmothers old quilts were made out of old clothing!”
  • Gillian Daley writes, “The Northampton DPW has special tags that you use on bags of textiles to be recycled, and the Salvation Army will take them. I don’t know if other towns have them as well but contacting the Northampton DPW is a good start.”
  • Jennifer Shiao Page writes, “But, does the Salvation Army want clothing that are “ripped, stained or otherwise unable to donate/wear?” I know that the Northampton Survival Center does not. I donate what I think is suitable, but what to do with the stuff that is not donation worthy?”
  • Gillian Daley writes, “Jennifer, the specially tagged stuff is recycled into other materials. They ask for the special tags so they are sorted separately from the wearable clothes.”
  • Riché J. Daniel Barnes writes, “I donate to Salvation Army and others because I know they give or sell it to other companies that process it into other stuff. There is a documentary about “rags” called Secondhand (Pepe) by a professor at Harvard.”
  • Maryellen Smith Rousseau wrties, “Give them to the Salvation Army. They take the items that are not saleable and give them to companies that recycle them into shop towels. Please, please don’t throw them away! We need to do everything we can to reduce what we are putting in the landfill.”
  • Arianna Alexsandra Grindrod wrties, “Doesn’t the Bag Share group use rags? Check with the Old Creamery Co-op in Cummington.”
  • Robin Morgan Huntley writes, “Braided rugs! Make one (or a few) for a space your kids play/create in- if they spill paint or jam clay into the rug, it won’t matter because it’s recycled. You can also make pillows and/or a quilt out of old clothes… also particularly effective when there are spill-y kids around.”
  • Kara Kitchen writes, “You can rip/cut into strips, tie together to make long rope and either crochet or braid+stitch into braided rag rugs or baskets/bowls.”
  • Sarah M writes, “Quilt! Then donate the quilts to a shelter or hospital! I use old clothes to put in the dog’s crate!”
  • Melissa Flanders writes,Freecycle?”

1 Comment

  1. Emma stamas said,

    August 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I am surprised that in this community where there are collection boxes for shoes and clothes all over the place, that some people do not realize that all old clothing, cloth, and old shoes are wanted all over the world now and should never be thrown into the trash or composted. Just be sure to bag them separately, clean and dry them and never place them outside a collection place or box that is closed or full. If they are dirty or wet it is diffuclt to send them on to their next stage of usefullness. Also send them on their way before they get damp and mildewy from sitting in a garage or barn or basement too long.


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: