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5 Things to Do with Old T-Shirts
We’ve been talking a bit about capsule wardrobes lately. And it seems like everyone is talking about tidying up their homes (thanks, Marie Kondo). If you’ve taken an interest in either, then you’ve encountered the predicament of how to responsibly dispose of clothes. Here are a few ways you can purge one of the most common clothing items: t-shirts (after thanking them for all the joy they’ve sparked, of course).

Sell

If your t-shirt is in great shape, try to sell it. Find a local consignment shop, or sell online through Thredup or Poshmark. When you sell your shirt, you know that the receiver truly wants it and will actually wear it (and probably won’t donate it or throw it away any time soon).

Donate

Have you ever wondered where your clothes end up when you donate them to a thrift store? Did you assume that they make their way to a local storefront and get bought up by a lucky bargain shopper? Some might, most won’t. According to an article published by ABC News, only about 10% of your donations -- the really good stuff -- will be sold in a local store. The rest will be recycled into other textile goods like cleaning cloths (AKA downcycled) or shipped off to a third world country and sold for a hefty markup. Either option is preferable over sending your t-shirts to the landfill, but they also demonstrate that donating clothes to a thrift store isn’t always the most environmentally-friendly choice.

If you’d like to learn more about what happens when other countries accept our donated clothing in mass quantities, we recommend checking out the movie The True Cost.

Re-purpose

There are so many great ways to re-purpose t-shirts. Some especially topical hacks include net produce bags, facial rounds, and cleaning cloths. So if you’re still in the process of acquiring goods to support your low waste lifestyle, re-purposing t-shirts could be a kill-two-birds situation.

Let us know if you’d be interested in a list and guide for re-purposing t-shirts!

Recycle

There are companies out there that accept clothing specifically for the purpose of recycling them. It takes a lot of resources (water, petroleum, energy) to create new textiles. Recycling used textiles simultaneously allows us to preserve natural resources AND divert textile waste from the landfill. Some companies that will accept your used tees for recycling include SMART, Roadrunner and For Days.

Compost

If your t-shirt is made of 100% biodegradable fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp, or bamboo, it can be composted! Start by shredding your tee and removing any non-compostable material (possibly including tags). Then throw it in the compost bin. It’s that easy. Natural textiles can even be composted in a worm bin!

Stay tuned for a more in-depth guide to composting!

If you’re looking for the most environmentally friendly option, the traditional hierarchy of waste holds true for textiles: reusing is the lowest impact option, followed by recycling. Whatever way you decide to get creative with your old t-shirts, good on you for not sending them to the landfill!

We’d love to hear how you’ve re-purposed your old clothes! Reach out to us on social media or share in the comments. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for updates on the blog and shop launch.

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