Blog post by Plant Chicago intern Athena Clark
Have Too Many T-Shirts? Thinking About Donating Them?
READ THIS FIRST!
If you’re like me then you have way too many T-shirts. I have T-shirts from volunteering, from different high school and college events, from my favorite bands, … the list goes on and on. Besides the few that I use when I work out, the majority just sit in the back of my closet collecting dust. With the extra time spent hanging around the house, with the COVID-19 pandemic raging on and winter months looming, I’ve decided to clean out my closet and all those T-shirts. But, what to do with them?
Let’s start with some fast facts on textile waste and donation practices in the United States…
Textiles make up a huge portion of the US waste stream. The EPA reports that Americans generate 16 million tons of textile waste a year, equaling just over six percent of total municipal waste (plastics make up 13 percent of our waste stream)
11.3 million tons of textiles were sent to the landfill in 2018.
Goodwill, which reports that it offers many opportunities for the clothes to be resold, reports that roughly five percent of donated clothes are sent directly to landfills
And all of a sudden, I’m rethinking my initial plan. I can’t just send it straight to Goodwill or Salvation Army; at least not with those facts clouding my conscience.
HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO
Don’t stress! I did the digging so that you don’t have to…
Before throwing away or donating your old T-shirts consider upcycling them into something new and useful! Like…
Bigger sizes work as tote bags and smaller sizes work as produce bags!
And finally, if you don’t want your t-shirts to go to the landfill but aren’t feeling particularly crafty, have them turned into a quilt or blanket!
Keepsake will turn those t-shirts into something to keep you cozy and warm while supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community through their employment practices. Take a look at their mission statement:
“We started our non-profit in 1998 with one goal: to provide meaningful employment to a community that experiences high rates of unemployment. True to our mission, nearly every one of our employees is deaf/hard of hearing and count on our organization to create a work environment where they can succeed. Our greatest source of pride is not the 10,000+ custom t-shirt blankets we've made over the years. It's the 115+ deaf employees that have joined us along the way.”
No matter what you decide to do with your pile of t-shirts remember to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!
Reduce the volume of textiles you purchase.
Reuse textiles until they’re at the end of their usefulness and then consider upcycling.
Research how to recycle textile waste in your area!