This is my pile of single socks.  I have been closely guarding it for years.  I’m not sure why.  I guess I’ve just always hoped that their mates would be found and they’d be reunited.  Or that I’d find the time to make cute sock puppets or other crafty items.  However, I’ve come to the sad realization that it’s time to say goodbye to them…but I can’t give away a single sock or throw it into the trash where it will head to a landfill!  Now what do I do with them?  Read on to find out…

Textile Waste

Now that I have finally made the decision to give up all of those single socks I had to, of course, set out on a research mission to figure out what options I had besides the trash (landfill) since I couldn’t donate just a single sock.  (Well, I guess I could but how unfair would that be?)  In my search, I learned some very interesting facts about textile waste.

According to a documentary called, “The True Cost,” the average American throws away 82 pounds of textile waste each year, which adds up to 11 million tons of the stuff. For the most part, these textiles aren’t biodegradable, which means they will sit in landfills for at least 200 years and release harmful gases into the air.

And, according to the Council for Textile Recycling, Americans recycle or donate only 15 percent of their used clothing, and the rest—about 11 million tons a year—goes into landfills, giving textiles one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material.

This was so eye opening!  I had no idea so much was thrown away and so little was recycled.  I have to admit, I really didn’t even know clothing (textiles) was recyclable!

Recycling Textiles (and Socks!)

Of the textiles that are recycled I was interested to find out that 45% is worn as secondhand clothing, 30% is cut down and used as industrial rags, 20% is ground down and reprocessed into things like insulation and carpet padding and 5% is unusable and heads to the landfill.  Now, keep in mind these are just the things that are dropped off to be recycled – if it gets put in the trash it goes straight to the landfill.  I do donate all of our old clothing but I was putting ripped or badly worn items in the trash.  Ugh!  Now I know!

So, where do you recycle old clothing (including single socks!) since it’s not likely to be part of your curbside pickup?   I checked out my local division of solid waste website where I was pleased to find out I can drop off clothing in good shape to be donated to local area charities or badly worn items to be recycled!  How happy am I?!  So happy!  Now I have an environmentally friendly way to say goodbye to all of my single socks and feel good knowing that while they were never reunited with their mates they will live on for a good cause!