Reusing Textiles

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Your old shirt can come back as a dress, industrial rags or even a new shirt.

There are many options for reusing or recycling textiles, but the best option for you will depend on the quality of the textiles you have. The good news is; there's an option for everyone!

Textiles in good condition

If you have clothes and sheets etc that are unstained, with no holes in them, donate them to your local charity shop, someone else can buy them and the money will go to a good cause.

Car boot sales and online sites such as Shpock, Ebay or Facebook are a good way of making some money and passing on your unwanted items to a good home.

Local textile recycling banks also accept clothes, shoes and other textiles.

Recycling banks at Household Recycling Centres will accept the items detailed below:

  • Clothing
  • Towels
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Curtains
  • Paired shoes

All district councils have textile recycling banks except for Bromsgrove & Redditch. NB: Not all clothing recycling banks are collecting for legitimate charities. If you have any doubts please use a well-known charity such as Salvation Army or Oxfam or take to your nearest Household Recycling Centre.

Textiles in poor condition

Some textile recycling banks will accept textiles that are worn out. The fabrics are shredded before being recycled into new items. Industrial quality “blankets” which protect equipment whilst in transit are an example of what recycled textiles may become. Contact your local council to find out if textile banks in your area will accept damaged textiles.

A number of charity shops will also accept damaged textiles, it’s best to check with the individual charity shops before you go. They sell them on to rag merchants.

Buying and repairing

Buying second-hand textiles

In order to divert textiles from landfill, we need to buy re-used items. You can pick up some great second-hand clothes and upholstery fabrics in charity shops, at car boot sales and online sites such as Shpock, Ebay or Facebook. Buying second-hand items will often save you money.

From rags to riches

Try repairing or refashioning clothes for a new look. Local colleges run courses on sewing and making clothing or maybe a friend could help you. Old curtains or upholstery fabrics can be made into new home furnishings or even a stylish bag.

The Repair Café's have people who are able to repair clothing for you if you do not have the equipment or skills. Duckworth Trust also have regular "Social Sew and Sewers" events which you can go along to and learn how to make and repair clothing. They also have regular Swap Shops for people to take along unwanted clothing. For more information visit www.dwt.org.uk

For more information on buying and repair your clothes and being more sustainable go to www.loveyourclothes.org.uk

Other options

  • Vintage sales – you can buy and sell retro clothes and textiles at these sales and pick up some real bargains.
  • Swishing and Swap Shops

Shoe recycling

You can recycle shoes in the textile banks at Household Recycling Centres, try to keep shoes in pairs where possible (put an elastic band around shoes without laces or tie laces together), otherwise they cannot be reused.

Charity bag recycling

There are an increasing number of textiles recycling bags being delivered to householders in the two counties. Some of these are being delivered by legitimate charities, however many are being delivered by companies or businesses who are collecting clothes to resell for profit. Often they cleverly create the impression that they are associated with a charity when they are not.

It is recommended that individuals carefully read the small print on the bags to ensure that any textiles donated will go to a legitimate charity. If you have any concerns you can check with the Charities Commission or the Textile Recycling Association.

Should you think that the collection may be a scam you can contact Consumer Rights pages to read about the most appropriate Trading Standards or Regulatory Services team.