Clothing and a Circular Economy

This month, we’re back to talking about how to participate in a circular economy, this time through clothing.

As a reminder, a circular economy is a theoretical model where we reduce the purchase of new items, reuse items that still have life to them, and recycle items that do not. The goal of this is to reduce the amount of waste we make and the amount of virgin material that is harvested to make new items.

When it comes to clothing, there are lots of ways to participate in a circular economy, from donating or reselling clothing that you no longer wear, to purchasing items second hand, to recycling fabric from clothing that is at the end of its useful life.

When it comes to donating clothing, there are a lot of options available. In many towns and cities there are 24 hour clothing donation drop boxes such as those from Planet Aid (we have 5 here in Easton). You can also find drop offs at specific thrift stores, such as the Hidden Treasures thrift store in St. Michaels or the Goodwill or Salvation Army in Easton. These types of drop offs typically have specific hours so be sure to check with the specific store or charity you are looking to donate to.

A Planet Aid drop box. These typically let you drop items off 24 hours a day.

There are also a variety of ways to resell used clothing that is in good condition. This might include local second hand shops, such as Frugalicious here in Easton, or online retailers such as ThredUp or The Real Real for high end items.

Finally, if you’re looking to get rid of fabric, including clothing that is too worn to be of further use, the clothing company For Days has a recycling program called the Take Back Bag. For $20, they will send you a bag that can hold up to 15 pounds of textiles. Once you fill the bag, you send it back to the company using their shipping method (USPS), which is included in the $20 that you pay. This material gets recycled, likely for use in textile based insulation, rather than ending up in a landfill.

Another option, which can be a lot of fun, is to bring your unwanted clothing to a clothing swap. Clothing swaps allow everyone who wants to participate the chance to get rid of clothing they don’t want or don’t wear and get some new to them clothing in exchange.

In fact, as part of our June Open House, we are going to host a clothing swap. If you’re interested in attending, now is the time to start sorting and saving clothing that you no longer want.

We’ll also be accepting donations of clothing in good condition if you’d like to donate but aren’t interested or able to attend the clothing swap.

We’ll have the first hour of the clothing swap (1 to 2 pm) be only for people who bring clothing to donate, after which we’ll open up the swap so that people who don’t have clothing to donate can participate after making a $5 donation to Phillips Wharf.

Any remaining clothing will be either donated to Goodwill or go into a Take Back Bag, depending on wear.

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