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I talk a lot about what you can do with your fabric scraps. But sometimes, at the end of the day, as sewists we often just have too much excess fabric remnants and scraps of fabric to deal with in our lifetime, no matter how many fabric scrap projects we do. So what do we then do with all the material scraps and clothing scraps we have left over? There are only so many fabric scrap ottomans left that my house can take! So here is how you can recycle fabric scraps and places to donate fabric remnants.
- How To Recycle Fabric Scraps – What To Do With Excess Textiles
- Buy Less, Choose Well, Make It Last
How To Recycle Fabric Scraps – What To Do With Excess Textiles
Excess fabric is a real problem. The fast fashion industry is a major polluter of this planet, and it is estimated that every person in the U.S. throws away 82lbs of textiles a year. The true cost of fast fashion and our clothes fixation really does impact on the planet. So finding ways to reduce sending textiles to landfill could really improve this.
In an ideal world we would all be buying less clothes and less fabric for sewing so we have less waste. And I will come to both of these at the end. But I am guessing you are here more for some scrap fabric recycling ideas, so I will start with some of the best ways of scrap textile recycling.
How can we recycle scrap fabrics?
1. Compost Your Scraps
First on the list of how to dispose of fabric scraps has to be composting. If your fabric scraps are made or a natural fibre such as wool, linen, 100% cotton, silk, hemp or bamboo, then you can cut them into small scraps and throw them straight into your compost bin or pile. They count as brown waste for your compost bin.
You can speed up the process by soaking all your scraps in water and using a drill with a blender attachement to much them up further, but just cutting them up small is fine. Just be sure to cut off any zips, buttons and plastic trims.
2. Donate Locally
Asking around and donating locally also means that recycling has very little environmental impact. Asking
- local schools and churches
- local sewing, art and crafting groups or
- trying to give away on free cycle and local free groups in your area
means that the fabric scraps don’t need to travel far to get a new home where they will be used. I tend to google ‘ where to recycle fabric scraps near me ‘ and this usually gives some good up to date ideas.
I am also a member of several upcycling and zero waste sewing groups on Facebook, and it may be worth offering to send your scraps there too. Lots of people are looking for fabric scraps for sale or fabric scraps for free. But this will come with a postage cost.
3. Donate To Thrift Shops
Does goodwill recycle fabric scraps? Some charity shops do accept worn clothes with holes and fabric remnants, as they can sell these on to textile recycling programs and businesses to make money for the charity in that way.
It is always worth emailing or giving the charity shop / thrift store chain a call or email to ask if they do this.
And always segregate your unusable clothing and fabric scrap donations from your regular good saleable clothing donations. I put my scrap clothes and fabrics textile waste into a separate bag marked ‘ Textile Scraps For Recycling ‘ to to ensure it doesn’t get mixed up with the good donations.
4. Donate Via Clothing Recycling Bins
A lot of the major shopping chains now have recycling bins in their own stores. And some even have a financial incentive such as a voucher too use in their store if you take your own textiles to be recycled.
Now, this method of recycling fabrics poses a bit of an ethical dilemma for me. I do not really want to shop in some of these stores as they have contributed to the problem. But at the same time, the textiles do go to be recycled, so it has to be on this list as a viable solution.
In H&M, North Face and Levi the recycling textiles bins are collected by I:Co – who are a subsidiary of SOEX. SOEX recycles and sells on textiles in what they call a circular system. In M&S the clothing is donated to Oxfam, a charity who also says they use everything donated. It may be worth finding out where your textiles are going before donating in this way.
And is this a solution? I have many friends who take their recycling into H&M to get the voucher to spend. But I would rather not buy more fast fashion, and pretend that taking my textiles to them soothes my conscience.
Terracycle are a large multinational company with an answer to most recycling problems. And they have many solutions if you need to recycle items or plastic coated fabric.
They have a selection of zero waste boxes that you can buy, fill and return to them to recycle. From plastic wrapping to an All-in-one box that you can place most items that can’t be processed in your usual recycling bin.
Next on my list of ways how to recycle fabric scraps is a far more niche option only currently available in the New York and Philadelphia areas of the U.S.
FABSCRAP has a warehouse in New York City that accepts donations of scrap fabrics for a recycling fee from everyone including crafters and hobby sewing enthusiasts. The scraps they collect are either recycled or sold.
Buy Less, Choose Well, Make It Last
Obviously, it goes without saying that we need to be buying less and looking after our clothes better to reduce fabric waste in the first place.
But things get worn, we grow out of things, and sometimes we do need new outfits. So what can we do with our old clothing? I do sort mine into sellable (by me), donate-able (to the local thrift shop or charity box), and non-donation worthy used clothing.
Donating clothing items to a thrift store is great, but it is always worth keeping local charities and churches in mind too, as you may be able to walk to drop items off, and these places often support local people in your own area.
Any clothes that I cannot donate, due to being too worn or with holes then goes into my upcycling pile to see if I can upcycle those clothes.
And I will always try and reuse fabric scraps to make things I need to use in my own home before I donate any fabric to be recycled.
The best idea to reduce fabric waste is quite plainly to buy only what we need and look after it.
Love This Post On Fabric Scrap Recycling? Why Not Read Some Of My Other Sewing And Eco Friendly Posts?
I love to show you really easy sustainable living sewing projects that you can make at home to save money. I have quite a few free sewing patterns here in my content, and have lots of ideas how to use up fabric scraps. So why not read these other posts I have written?
- Zero Waste Projects For Your Home
- See my guide to starting a shop and setting up to selling on Etsy.
- What To Make With Scrap Fabric
- Things That Are Perfect To Sew And Sell
- Which Sewing Machines Are The Best?
I hope that this has given you some good fabric scraps recycling ideas. How will you be recycling fabric in future? I would love to hear how you get on! Let me know in the comments, or find me on social media
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