Recycle Your Clothes And Help Build A Home

Repurpose / Refurbish

The new year is a great time to organize and make our homes spiffy. Sorting, purging, and donating can be quite cathartic when the end result is a clean, cleared, and clutter-free space.

The only problem? The leftover torn and stained clothes and old worn out shoes and blue jeans I was preparing to simply throw away into the trash left me with nagging “green guilt”. I realized there must be another alternative to adding to the over-burdened landfills. DiggersList has helped prevent tons of home-improvement-related waste from ending up there, why not my clothing as well?

You see, a big part of organizing our homes involves sorting through pounds of clothing, which according to an article titled “EarthTalk: Recycling Worn Out Clothing.” on,  “Ninety-nine percent of used textiles are recyclable.” The article goes on to report, “According to the non-profit Institute for Local Self-Reliance, textiles make up about four percent of the weight and eight percent of the volume of all municipal solid waste in the U.S.”

Here are some great ways to recycle clothing that is over-worn, stained, ripped, unwearable, etc., and turn them into building materials to extend its potentiality indefinitely:

    • Goodwill & Salvation Army: These charities accept unusable clothing, and give them to textile recyclers (NOTE: To give them a hand, please pre-sort and bag up your usable from unusable clothing, and mark bags accordingly).  Clothes then are often made into mattress filling, carpet underlay, and upholstery, among other items. Visit their websites for pick-up scheduling or drop-off locations near you. Photo courtesy of

  • This hard-working non-profit uses old/used blue jeans/denim and recycles them into insulation, then donates this new material for homes built by Habitat for Humanity. Visit their website for more information, and how/where to donate your denim (NOTE: currently, there are no denim drives scheduled, stay tuned and check in to their website for future events). Top and thumbnail photo courtesy of UPDATE: this site is NO LONGER accepting donations.
  • Nike developed this program that takes the rubber, foam, and upper material of a shoe, separates them, then grinds them up to be recycled into rubber running tracks, fabric padding under basketball courts, and foam surfacing for tennis courts and playgrounds. Visit their website or call a local Nike outlet for shoe drop-off and donation information. Photo courtesy of


Have you ever heard of these programs?  If not, what do you think?

Print This Project

Written By Skaie Knox

Skaie Knox is a storyteller on a quest to provide sparkling content through copywriting, songwriting and video production. She is founder of HomeJelly,'s key copywriter, a published singer/songwriter (Fervor Records/ASCAP) and kid's book author (Big Bug Lunch!). For doable DIY video tutorials, subscribe to her HomeJelly YouTube channel (for link, click on my nose!).

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Recycle Your Clothes And Help Build A Home --

  • Cat

    are these organizations that reuse unusable denim/textiles in the US only? I have some torn denim that could be re-purposed. Any information will be greatly appreciated. Especially if you have any info for any organizations in Vancouver, Canada



  • Wade

    Recycling is great, but I’d like to point out a few inaccuracies in this blog:

    1) USAgain’s main business activity is not as a “textile recycling company” as it often claims, but rather as a used clothes reseller. In February 2013, a USAgain spokesman told Indiana’s South Bend Tribune that “about 70% to 80% of what USAgain collects is sold in the reused clothing market.”

    * “Who’s getting your old stuff?” — South Bend Tribune, Ind. 2013:

    To clarify: ‘re-use’ & ‘recycling’ are not the same. ‘Recycling’ is to process discarded items into new products. ‘Re-use’ is discarded items retaining their original form, to be used again.

    USAgain may refer to ‘re-use’ as if it were ‘recycling’ simply because it makes the company look “greener.” But USAgain has often hinted that it prefers “gently used” clothing, which it sells more profitably than ripped and worn-out items that are only useful as recyclable material.

    2) USAgain cites an EPA statistic that 85% of discarded clothing isn’t recycled but instead goes to landfills. But is USAgain twisting EPA data to make it seem that 85% of ‘re-wearable’ clothes are just thrown away?

    It’s important to clarify that EPA data on clothing recycling does not represent ALL clothing that Americans get rid of, whether by throwing it out, or by giving it away somewhere. Rather, the EPA data pertains only to clothing estimated to have avoided the dump and to have been recycled into new products.

    This means that EPA doesn’t keep track of the vast quantities of usable clothes that folks give away to friends and family, to churches, and to for-profit and nonprofit clothing collection companies.

    Furthermore, the very existence of countless charities and for-profits that collect used clothes strongly supports the contention that when Americans part with their re-wearable duds, they don’t recklessly toss them into the trash, as USAgain seems to imply. So it’s likely that most old clothing that does go to a landfill is not wearable, but actually thread-bare or ripped.

    It’s true that Americans need to learn to bag up such ‘non-wearables’ and take them preferably to a nonprofit like the Salvation Army or St. Vincent de Paul, which sells the stuff by the ton to be made into things like rags and insulation.

    3) As for still wearable items, USAgain, along with other out-of-town clothes collectors, are reportedly causing donations to dwindle at local charities. This raises the concern that there aren’t enough clothes donations to support all the groups collecting them, despite USAgain’s assurances to the contrary.

    4) Despite its “green” claims, USAgain may in fact have a huge carbon footprint, as the goods it collects are shipped out of your town, across the country, and often overseas. These tons of clothes require tons of fossil fuels to get to places like Africa. Donating locally is far greener by comparison.
    * “True scale of CO2 emissions from shipping revealed” — The Guardian, UK, 2008:

    (concluded in my 2nd comment)

    • Skaie Knox

      “When we know better, we do better.” – Maya Angelou

      First off, I want to say thank you for your thoughtful comments on our HomeJelly post, “Recycle Your Clothes and Help Build A Home”. Though we mainly used the quote from an article by that references U’SAgain’s stat on clothes ending in the land-fill, I appreciate your more in-depth understanding of this organization. We certainly do not wish to promote these horrible and unscrupulous organizations nor have mis-information on our site.

      We have discussed your letters, done some extensive research on the matter, and have decided to take out the info. related to US’Again. We will also post your comments and this response regarding said cult, so others may learn of this matter.

      Secondly, I don’t know you, but I’m guessing you care a great deal about the world. In the spirit of the quote above by Ms. Angelou, I now know better, so I will do better, thanks to your participation and information. In light of this, I would like to offer some information of my own to you. Before leaving comments such as you did, “But on this happy little blog, who’s really interested in the truth?”, you may want to take a beat and rethink doing so. You don’t know me or any of us here at HomeJelly. I personally have been an activist for constitutional rights, human rights and animal rights for over 20 years, risking my own freedom to help protect others’. I do my best to live and be conscious of how my actions, purchases, and words in this blog may affect the world. All this because I absolutely, as do all of us here at this happy little blog (thank you for that, by the way! :D), care and am interested in the truth.

      I’m hoping, that after this response, you’ll know better and do better as well. Thanks again for your care and time and we hope you’ll stop by again.

  • Wade

    Recycling is great, but I’d like to point out that USAgain is not really a recycling company. Its main business activity is as a used clothing reseller. But of course, ‘recycling company’ sounds a lot more PC. In February 2013, a USAgain spokesman told Indiana’s South Bend Tribune that “about 70% to 80% of what USAgain collects is sold in the reused clothing market.” To clarify, ‘re-use’ is not ‘recycling.’ Just ask the EPA.

    USAgain is controversial for more disturbing reasons. Reports going back a decade suggest that the for-profit company, to quote a 2009 Seattle TV news investigation, “…routinely pretended to be a charity so business owners wouldn’t ask for rent on the bin space.”

    Worse, Danish prosecutors have tied USAgain to an alleged cult called the “Tvind Teachers Group.” Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

    Ms. Knox, you can verify all of this and more simply by doing your own research. You’re certainly welcome to my extensive documentation if you’re interested.

    But on this happy little blog, who’s really interested in the truth? :-/

  • Lynn

    the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Pauls are both excellent donation destinations if they will accept worn-out and unusable clothing. I have a ton of the stuff to get rid of, and I am pleased to learn that I can donate this stuff locally at both places, and that it will be recycled into other products. Thank you for the information, as I was getting ready to throw it in the trash. I am a writer, so will definitely spread the word.

    • Skaie Knox

      Hi Lynn! Thanks for the nice comment. Seems that the clothing recycling business is an ever changing one. We appreciate our readers’ updates and we’re glad this was helpful to you as well. Have a great day and thanks for visiting!

  • Pingback: It Truly is an Enticing Vice – enticingvice()