I’ve got a large bag of (washed) socks and underwear that are not really fit for wearing anymore, most commonly because of holes. Obviously, thrift stores don’t want them, and I have plenty of rags (and their material/shape isn’t the best for that anyway).
I understand that cheaply made clothes are a major landfill component these days. Is there any better way to get rid of these (or maybe somehow use them) besides tossing them out?
I’ve lived in three different states over the last year and all of them have had some form of textile recycling. Check what applies to your city/county. If nothing else textiles are sometimes shredded and used for padding/insulation, and even if they are not, using your local system for accepted sorted items makes it better prepared for landfill reduction.
Of course, it could also be that the local system is “throw it in the trash”, but you need to look at your community’s information page to find that out.
Don’t Goodwill and the Salvation Army thrift stores sort clothing donations and sell what’s not resellable (as actual clothing) to textile recyclers? So the thrift stores might still want your old stuff.
Cotton underwear and socks can be composted. They are biodegradable.
I mend (darn) wool socks – they too can be composted. Petroleum socks and underwear are hard to mend and cannot biodegrade, but they can be shredded and be used as insulation if you can find a place that does this.
The website for the Salvation Army chapter in the Portland, Oregon area says,
If the clothing you donate doesn’t sell, we’ll recycle it
Salvation Army Thrift Stores often receives donated clothing that cannot be sold in stores because it is torn, stained and/or overly worn. The Salvation Army is still able to generate funds from these clothing donations and divert them from local landfills by selling them to cloth graders. The cloth graders re-sort the materials; turning some into rags, selling other parts for the fiber content used to make things such as upholstery stuffing and carpet padding, or resells the items in foreign markets. This results in a win-win situation for the environment and for The Salvation Army as these clothing items stay out of our landfills and generate funds to help our organization provide community programs and services such drug and alcohol recovery and relapse prevention.
No the are not. Both these products are only partially biodegradable, each has nylon and elastic which would spoil any compost were it added. Do not compost these items in anything you expect to be able to fertilize with later.
Sometimes the most environmentally friendly way to get rid of something is to put it in the landfill. It’s not polluting the oceans, it’s not being burned, it’s just sitting with a bunch of other garbage and slowly decomposing. Eventually it will be buried and the land reclaimed.
Being burned can more easily be done max environmentally friendly compared to decomposing. You can clean the resulting gasses more easily, as they are produced in a single location, you can capture and utilize the energy, and the ashes can be trapped in a way that slows down any escape to groundwater etc.
Decomposing in a landfill instead produces methane, which in some ways is a more problematic greenhouse gas. It’s much harder to capture gas from a landfill than to put trash in a incinerator/powerplant. And landfills notoriously leak shit into groundwater etc.
Yeah, a good landfill will capture that methane and use it. A good incinerator plant is also an option, but just like good landfills, those aren’t always available. I was thinking more along the lines of burning your old underwear in the backyard with some leaves, or in some under developed country for cooking.
Mostly it’s just the idea that a well maintained landfill is not the worst place for something to end up; or maybe the least-bad option.