Everything I wear has holes.
I hate shopping, so I’m stuck in an endless cycle of wearing things down until they’re in shreds hanging on my body. Now, entire shelves of my closet are dedicated to retired pieces of clothing, which sit there like sad trophies. But how do I get rid of my old t-shirts without throwing them in the trash where they’ll end up in a landfill?
Well, textile waste, which includes everything from carpets and comforters to the clothes in your closet, is an enormous problem. We recycle a remarkably small percentage of textiles in the U.S., and in 2015, 10.5 million tons of textile waste ended up in our landfills, according to the EPA’s website. Why is this happening? Likely because we just don’t know how to recycle our used clothing—unlike plastic bottles or cardboard boxes, they can’t always enter our recycling bins and go off to greener pastures.
This week, however, San-Francisco based retailer Marine Layer launched its “Re-Spun” program, a recycling initiative meant to tackle this very problem. As part of “Re-Spun,” Marine Layer is allowing anyone to drop off any old t-shirts in stores or mail them in via a prepaid mailer. For every t-shirt you drop off or mail in, you’ll receive $5 in credit, up to a limit of $25 (though there’s no limit on the number of tees you can donate, so it’s not a bad opportunity to declutter your closet once and for all).
From here, according to Marine Layer’s website, the shirt will be broken down into fibers, turned into yarn, and then recycled into a new tee to be sold in stores. Marine Layer will accept any brand and most types of tees, though cotton ones are preferred; the only exception are any shirts made from Spandex, which is harder to break down, and thus can’t be as easily recycled.
If you’re feeling a little cynical about a retailer making money off your old clothes (the recycled tees currently don’t have a retail price, but the cheapest shirt at Marine Layer retails for $39, so it’s safe to assume they’re making a pretty good profit), there are other ways to get rid of your old clothes.
Of course, you can always try a consignment or thrift store, which may give you more (or less) than the value given by Marine Layer. If left with unsold clothing, however, stores like Goodwill may inevitably ship them off to a landfill. Otherwise, you can use Earth911’s locator to find a retailer or facility that’ll accept your used clothing; both H&M and the North Face stores accept any brand of clothing for recycling or reuse (though they won’t give you a credit for it necessarily, but may provide a discount on a future sale).
So Marine Layer’s new service is just one of many options, and a seemingly pretty good deal. They’ll even accept t-shirts with rips, stains, or holes, so your ratty old shirts from college can finally find a new home.