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Where can I recycle worn-out clothes and linens? | Living Lake Country Reporter

Fri September 2, 2011

Living Lake Country Reporter

Where can I recycle worn-out clothes and linens?

Originally published September 2, 2011 by Living Lake Country Reporter

When it comes to getting rid of old clothes, bed linens and bath towels, most people are aware of the nonprofits around here that take new or gently used items: Lake Country Caring, Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul, to name a few. However, what should we do with clothing and other fabrics that can no longer be used?

Many people don't realize that, because of a thriving secondary market for old fabrics, most nonprofits that accept gently used items now also accept things in not-so-great shape. The nonprofits happily accept torn, stained and otherwise unusable fabrics, then turn around and sell those fabrics to secondary market brokers.

In this area, worn-out fabrics can be taken to the Goodwill stores in Pewaukee and Oconomowoc, to the St. Vincent de Paul store in Oconomowoc and to the USAgain drop box at 418 Merton Ave. in Hartland. Lake Country Caring still asks for only new or gently used clothing and other household goods.

Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul are both non-profits, and funnel any proceeds from sales of unusable fabrics back into their missions. USAgain, however, is a for-profit company based in Chicago.

According to USAgain spokesman Jen Hirsch, about half of what the company collects is resold within the U.S. to thrift stores and other wholesalers, about 30 percent is resold overseas, and about 20 percent is recycled for use in things like insulation, rags and mattress pads.