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Landfills are not laundry baskets…

When clothing is thrown away, it piles up in landfills, takes up valuable space and takes a very, very long time to decompose. Recycling your clothing, choosing clothing made with recycled products or wearing second-hand clothes is a smart choice for your wallet and the environment.

  • If you look at how clothing is made, you’ll see it is a very resource-intensive process. Cotton growers, for example, rely heavily on insecticides that are hazardous to human health.

    The majority of the world’s cotton is grown in developing nations, which do not have the necessary regulations to protect the health of the cotton workers or the environment.

    Cotton also requires huge amounts of water. According to the Water Footprint Network, the average cotton shirt required 713 gallons of water to produce! And when you consider production and transportation [consider a sweater designed in California with merino wool imported from New Zealand that is sewn in Brazil and distributed across the US], a lot of energy is being consumed, waste is being generated and carbon emissions are released.

    So think before you toss and before you buy new. There are many options for extending the life of your unwanted clothes, shoes, belts, handbags and linens, and there are just as many options for restocking your closet.
  • Donate: Several agencies collect gently-used clothing and linens. Your place of worship or local family shelter may maintain a clothes closet. Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, Good Mojo, Goodwill and the Salvation Army operate several thrift stores around Hampton Roads--and you can take a tax deduction on your donation!

    When Goodwill and the Salvation Army get clothes that are too worn to re-sell, they send them to "rag sorters" that specialize in recycling pieces of fabric.

    You might also contact your local college or theatrical arts department who take clothing donations for use with upcoming performances as costumes.

    Your local SPCA, veterinarian or other animal board and care organization are always looking for extra linens, especially towels. They use these items in bathing and grooming pets. Call to see if they have a need the next time you're cleaning out the linen closet.
  • Consign: If making money is more your style, consider taking your better items to a local consignment shop and earn some extra cash.
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