We have options - old clothes and shoes need not go into land-fill?

by Toni McKern
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repeat blog article image

Recycle your clothes, materials and shoes right here in Australia

While most of us are pretty good at recycling our standard recyclables like glass, plastics, cardboard and paper but what about clothes and shoes. What do we do with those?

So now you’ve had a big clean-out of shoes and clothes and they may not be fit for re-homing to your local charity shop?  What to do with them? There are sooo many options of what else you can do with them before throwing them in the bin and filling up another land-fill hole. They’re piling up as we speak.

It hasn’t been around long in Australia but we’re working out and learning from our overseas friends how to extract the useful fibres and components from the not-so-useful fibres and components. It can be an expensive process that a lot of companies know nothing about.

But wonderful change is happening and there are a few companies out there offering new ways for you to avoid your clothes, textiles and shoes from going to landfill for longer

Below we’ve listed lots of ways you can free yourself of damaged clothes, materials or shoes that aren’t up to scratch for donating for re-use in the way they were intended. Check them out, forward or drop off your goods to a worthy cause and know you’re contributing to a better world.

Donate to animal rescue and shelter organisations. These places go through a mammoth amount of used sheets, towels and blankets for their animals. You’ll find that quite often they have Opportunity Shops too that sell bundles of rags to cleaning companies. There are many to chose from.

Here’s a few: RSPCA , Four Paws, Pet Rescue. Many also have op shops, which redirect low-grade fabrics to companies that make cleaning rags.

ASGA Save our soles initiative. With the Australian-first pilot program in Victoria, ASGA diverts worn-out sports shoes from land-fill into a range useful recycled products like gym mats, floors and playgrounds

ASGA intend to learn from this pilot to develop a scalable model for sports shoe recycling Australia-wide.  Collection sites are only in Victoria at the moment with more planned across Australia.

Boomerang Bags operate worldwide. With over 500 Boomerang Bangs groups in Australia, they use leftover fabric, doona covers and pillowcases to make into reusable bags which are then distributed to schools, businesses, events and more. Donate to a centre near you or perhaps start your own BB community.

Compost your natural fibres. Another climate change aware organisation (1millionwomen.com.au) tells us how, in detail, to compost our clothes made of linen, silk, cotton, cashmere, bamboo and wool. Read the full article here, but essentially you need to shred or cut your fabrics into smaller pieces, tags, buttons and zippers and anything else that’s not biodegradable and use a “hot compost” with worms to speed up the breakdown.

Fibre Economy at time of release doesn’t have a website yet, but they’re working on it. Essentially they take workwear and uniforms from the mining industry and redistribute them to those that need them or can use them for either wearing or making into a fashion item. They’re happy to take all sorts of branded and unbranded workwear that is still wearable.

Circular Centre is a social enterprise accepting a minimum of 120kg of clothing and bed linen and repurposes them to design out waste and pollution. 

It is also the mastermind of Circular Denim Redesign project who have collaborated with General Pants Co. to work with leading designers and students to repurpose and redesign donated denim pieces.

Sheridan is happy to accept your washed and pre-loved bed linen.  It’s made into recycled yarn to make new products. You’ll get a discount of 5% off your purchase for helping out too!

SCR Group through it’s 1,500 drop-off hubs, re-homes over 41 million items of unwanted clothing in communities where they are needed. It also onsells to international markets and downcycles into wiper rags as well as convert into a biofuel, offering an alternative to coal. SRG have also added e-waste to their Victorian hubs to include small electricals.

Totally Workwear has it’s own  Boot Recycling Program () in conjunction with Save Our Soles is seeing tradies ditching their worn-out and toxic workboots, for the good of their feet and the Australian environment. Components are used for rubber floormats, playgrounds and heaps more. Contact your local store to see if they participate.

Worn Up invites workplaces and schools to sign up for a collection pod which accepts laundered towels, sheets, non-wearable uniforms and deadstock. It all goes into making “stuff from your fluff” … a school desk from school dresses, acoustic tiles from fabric scraps. Anything’s possible.

With so many options, where are you going to send your next lot of unwanted household items?

If you would like to chat more about you and what footwear would be great for your role, connect with us, send us an email or visit our other blog articles.


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