Tag Archives | clothing

Give the Gift of Warmth

Where to donate winter coats

Winter in New England means snow ball fights, sledding, making snow men and snow angels.  You can’t possibly do that without a good winter coat!  And winter is here!

A few weeks ago, I had my kids try on all their coats, mittens, hats and boots.  Now I have a pile of perfectly good winter gear that doesn’t fit anyone.  What to do with it?

Well, I could of course donate them where I donate the rest of our clothing.  But there are so many organizations that specifically collect winter gear that I’d like to make sure these items get there and get into the hands of people who need them.  NOW!  It’s cold in Massachusetts and you NEED a winter coat, hats, mittens, ….

There are many organizations that collect winter coats. 

One Warm Coat

One Warm Coat collects coats, jackets, hats, mittens, sweaters, sweatshirts and any other outwear to keep someone warm.  They have collection sites across the country including Burlington Coat Factory and The Container Store locations.  Check here for a donation site close to you.

Coats For Kids

Massachusetts based Coats for Kids is sponsored by local Anton’s Cleaners.  This is the 18th year Anton’s has run this coat drive, collecting over 744,000 coats in the first 17 years.  All coats are cleaned, by Anton’s, free of charge, and donated to those in need.  The coat drives from Oct through January 12, 2013.  You can bring your gently used coats to any Aton’s Cleaners, Jordan’s Furniture, or many schools throughout Massachusetts.  Local schools who participate receive rewards for their donations.

Local Schools, Churches, Scout Troops

Many schools and other community organizations have coat drives.  I know my children’s school usually does a coat and/or hat drive most years.

Local Charities

I always knew that The Wish Project in Lowell, MA took all sorts of in season clothing, but only recently realized that a local food pantry – Loaves and Fishes in Devens,MA – also takes seasonal clothing, including coats.

Just remember that someone will need to wear this coat, so they need to be in good, working condition and clean.  If your coats are past their prime, they can still be recycled.

Have Any Winter Gear to Donate?


You CAN Donate Ripped And Stained Clothing

Summer is coming.  Are you switching out your winter for summer clothes?  What do you do with clothes you will no longer wear or that don’t fit? 
There are MANY bins around that will accept old clothing.  Salvation Army, Goodwill, New England Clothes Recycling, plus various charities such as The Wish Project.
If your clothes are in good condition, donate them to a charity like The Wish Project .  These charities give clothing straight to people who need it.  They must be in wearable condition – no stains or rips.
So what do you do with items that are torn, broken in some way or stained beyond help?  DONATE THEM to Salvation Army, Goodwill or the (cream colored) NE Clothing Recycling bins around town.  These organizations work with members of the textile industry to recycle everything possible.  Members of the nonprofit trade association SMART (Secondary Materials And Recycling Textiles) include companies that work with used clothing, wiping materials (rags) and the fiber industry.
SMART members purchase excess textiles from charities and other collectors of clothing.  They then sort and grade the clothing based on condition.
  • 45% is generally exported to lesser developed countries where demand is high.  We were told by a member of SMART that many people in foreign countries will purchase this clothing, fix it, then resell it to make a living.
  • 30% become wiping and polishing cloths unused in commercial areas.
  • 20% is reprocessed into fibers for furniture stuffing, upholstery, insulation, yarn etc.
  • 5% is unusable and gets, truly, thrown out.
The EPA estimates that the average person throws away 70 lbs of clothing annually.  My guess is that most of that comes from children!  They outgrow items very quickly or are tough on them causing stains or rips.
The generic term textiles is used to mean any clothing, fabric, sheets, towels, etc.  According to EPA, textiles made up 5.2% of the waste steam in 2010.  Of this waste, only 15% is recycled in some way.  That means there is a lot of room for improvement.  The other 85%, making up over 11 million tons of clothing, could be recycled.  It may not seem like much given that it is a small percentage of the total waste.  But think about the jobs it creates along the way, the money charities can raise, and the energy that is saved because new items aren’t being made.  And it’s easy!
We want the public to know all clothing andhousehold textiles such as tablecloths, sheets, shoes, belts, and stuffed animals can be recycled.  As long as the items are clean, even if they are stained or damaged, there is a recycling use for the material,” says Larry Groipen, SMART President and President of ERC Wiping Products (Lynn, MA).  
MassDEP  didn’t know these statistics until recently. Last fall then began working with SMART to get the word out that ALL textiles can be recycled in some way.
As long as they are dry, clean and free from mildew or hazardous materials like oil or paint.
Where do you recycle clothes?
Photo on top used under Creative Commons license by Alvimann/Flickr

This post was shared at Green Sisterhood


How To Recycle Everything

This past Wednesday Reduce Footprints put out another Change the World Wednesday Challenge:

This week create a recycle bin for all the non-curbside recyclables – batteries, CFL bulbs, misc. plastics, etc. – and then find out where to recycle them. 


Or … 

If you’re already a recycling “guru”, please tell us about your toughest items to recycle and how you’ve managed it. And, of course, any tips and ideas you have for recycling would be wonderful!

I already have a spot in my closet for “clothing to donate” and another spot for “plastic grocery-type bag recycling”. 

In doing the de-clutter challenge last month, I came to the conclusion that I need a few more spots for non-curbside recyclables.  For me, these include:
  • miscellaneous broken electronics
  • gift cards
  • greeting cards
  • completely beat up shoes that no one could ever wear (we end up with more of these than you’d think!)
Although I love to talk about recycling.  I have to point out that it is the 3rd R in  Reduce, Reuse , Recycle.  Still a good one, but the higher on the list you can go the better.
OK, back to recycling….
Over the past few years, I have compiled quite the list of how to reuse or recycle various things.  some of these options are actually reuse, which I feel better about.  
So here is my list of odd things you CAN recycle – beyond normal curbside recycling.  I have listed what I have found local to Westford, MA, but also, where I could, gave an idea of how to find a place close to you.  I can’t stress enough that if you have curbside trash/recycling pickup, get in touch with your local municipality for information on recycling.  Trash pickup costs big bucks and they are very eager to encourage recycling where they can to reduce this budget.
Note that some of these items, especially electronics, can be recycled at large national chains that can be found across the country.
Athletic Shoes – If you have any type of athletic shoe that has completely come apart (we have a few of those), the Nike Reuse-a-Shoe program will re purpose them into play surfaces.   If you don’t have one close to you, ask shoes stores.  Some around here will recycle them for you.
Alarm ClockBest Buy will recycle numerous electronics.
Appliances, small (breadmakers, blenders, hand mixers, curling irons, irons, hair dryers, etc..) – Anyone who lives near Westford, can recycle these items at one of our 3 Electronics Recycling events.  There is a $1 fee per item.
Appliances, large (Washers, Dryers, Refrigerators, ovens, etc…)  There are several options in Westford based on whether you would like someone to pick up can drop off.  These items have a  lot of valuable metal to reclaim.  Search your local area.  You are bound to find something.
Alkaline (Single-Use)  –  NOTHING IN MA.  According to MassDEP, they can be thrown in the trash.
Button Type – They contain mercury.  Check Hardware stores or your local Board of Health.  In Westford, they can be brought to Ace, MacKay’s and the Board of Health.
Lithium Batteries – considered household hazardous waste.  in Westford, you need to wait for a household hazardous waste event.  Some locations have them more frequently.
Rechargeable batteries –  Radio Shack, Best Buy, call2Recycle locations  in many hardware stores
Books– Check your local library.  Ours has book sales 4 times per year and accept many booksReading Tree is another organization that accepts all kinds of books.
Bicycles – A Boston based organization, Bike Not Bombs, collects bikes to send to Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean or are used domestically in their youth programs on bike safety.   If you are not in the Boston area, check here.
Brita Filters  – Every WholeFoods recycles Brita filters through the Gimme 5 program.
Cables, connectors and wires– including chargers – Best Buy
CalculatorsBest Buy
Carpeting – small area rugs can generally be donated to charities.  Installed wall-to-wall type carpeting is a lot more difficult for the consumer to recycle.  Ask your new installer if they can recycle your old carpeting.
Carseats(expired) – The options are limited, but I think more recyclers are understanding that they can do something with that big hunk of plastic.  You will most likely have to disassemble it yourself and take the fabric, metal and plastic to various places, but it’s worth looking into.    I recently heard form one of our local charities that this was one of their largest sources of trash.  They then hooked up with a local recycler who can accept them!
CDs/DVDsBest Buy
CFLs– Because of the mercury content, these should never be put into the trash.  Most hardware stores and larger stores such as Home Depot will recycle these.  In Westford, Ace and Mackay’s accept them.
Clothing– Again, if they are wearable, check out a Salvation Army, Goodwill or other charity.  There are fabric recyclers.  New England Clothing Recyclers is one such company.
Cosmetic Tubes or jars – Origins Makeup Store locations
Digital Cameras and Camcorders – Best Buy
Digital Photo Frames – Best Buy
Electronics (Computers, Monitors, TVs (Tube < 32”, Flat Panel LCD, Plasma, LED), Modems/Routers/Hubs, Memory cards, Pedometers/Heart Monitors, PC game controllers, Video Game Consoles, Shredders, Software, Speakers, DVD/Blu-ray player, E-readers, GPS (portable, in-dash and outdoor), Stereo Receivers, Turntables, Two Way radios, VCRs, Webcams)
Electronics can also be brought to one of Westford’s 3 electronics drop off events.
DVDs – Best Buy
Eye glasses – The Lions Club has collection boxes in many locations or ask a local eye glass shop or eye doctor.  In Westford, locations are located at the JV Fletcher Library, Nab One Stop, Roudenbush Community Center, among others.
Fans – Best Buy
Gift Cards – Best Buy
Greeting Cards – Any greeting card can be sent to St. Jude’s for repurposing.  
Hearing AidsHelp the Children Hear gives hearing aides to children who cannot afford them.
Inkjet cartridges – Staples, you will receive $2 to use at Staples.  Many schools run fundraisers recycling used inkjet cartridges.  They are also accepted at Best Buy.
Linens – If your linens are not candidates for reuse by a charity, look into animal shelters or your local animal control.  They often need old blankets, towels and other linens for the animals.
Mercury Thermometers and Thermostats – Because of the mercury, they need to be disposed of properly.  In Westford, we can take them to our Board ofHealth in the Town Hall.
Motor Oil – Try returning used oil where you bought it.  In MA, whoever sold oil to you is required by law to take back up to two gallons of your used oil per day, without charge, provided you still have the sales receipt.   If you don’t have your receipt, try your local Fire Station.
MP3 Players – Best Buy, Target
Packing Peanuts – Most delivery type places like UPS will take these.
Pizza Box – Some recyclers will accept pizza boxes without too much grease.  THIS IS VERY RECYCLER-dependent, so ask, it could ruin lots of other recyclables.  Even if you can’t recycle greasy boxes, you can recycle part of it.
Plastic bags  Plastic bags can be recycled at most grocery stores.  I use reusable bags mostly, but there are so many more items that can be recycled  big “Plastic Bag” bins at local grocery store. Check you local grocery store.  In our area, Hannaford and Stop and Shop accept any bag labeled #2 or #4.   I have found this on carrot bags, grape bags, toilet paper wrappers, bread bags, produce bags, cauliflower wrappers and more.  Check PlasticBagRecycling.org for more information in your area.
Plastics #5 – If your local recycler does not accept these, they can be recycled at Whole Foods via the Gimme 5 program
Professional Clothing – Many local organizations will accept professional clothing, to donate to men and women applying for new jobs. In Lowell, MA, Suitability provides this service.
Prom Gowns – Many local organizations will take prom gowns or other formal gowns and redistribute them to local young ladies who cannot afford.   In our area, Priceless Prom Gowns provides this service. 
Sporting Equipment Many Boy Scouts Troops do sporting goods sales for usable equipment, Play it Again Sports is a national company that buys and sells used sports equipment.   When the sports equipment is beyond usable, there are 2 companies that will make your old equipment into chairs, wine racks and more.
Telephones – Mobil, cordless, corded phones are accepted at Best Buy.  Cell phones are also accepted at call2Recycle locations in many hardware stores.
Toys (Small) – Small toys are accepted at many charities such as Salvation Army and Big Brother Big Sister (BBBS).  In our area, BBBS will pickup from your home or you can bring them to Savers in Nashua, NH.
Toys (Large) – The only options I have found are to give away to a friend or on Freecycle or sold at yard sales.
Vacuums (Upright/canister, robot, brooms/stick) – Best Buy
Wine CorksAll Whole Foods locations collect natural wine corks in conjunction with Cork ReHarvest.  update 1/7/2014: Unfortunately, Whole Foods is no longer participating in this program.  I’m still looking for alternatives.  In the meantime, try your local liquor/wine store.
Yoga MatsRecycle Your Mat will recycle your used up yoga mat.  You can find a location near you or ship your mat.    
Other Non-Recyclables – There are over 40 random items that can be upcycled through a company called TerraCycle.  These include chip bags, granola bars, used writing instruments, candy wrappers, toothbrushes and more.  To learn more about the program, look here.  If you live in Westford, MA area, check out the UpCycle It! program which collects many of these items and raises money for the Westford Public Schools.
I still can’t seem to find a place for leftover paint!  Anyone?  I think I will need to get creative and use it for craft projects.

Have you found any other odd items to recycle?




Purging Stuff: Week 1 Results

This week began my January long purge.  I have to admit that when I start something like this, I often have trouble focusing on ONE area.  I wander around the house picking up random things trying to decide where to start, which area is THE place to start?

This time, I didn’t decide.  I just cleaned out whatever struck me as interesting at the moment.  Interesting?  I know, sounds crazy.  But you know how sometimes you really FEEL like cleaning that cabinet or that pile that has been sitting in the corner of the dining room for months?

I started with clothing.  I had actually started going through my daughter’s closet the week before, so I finished that.  I always have an empty bag in my closet for “clothes to donate”.  It was getting full so I bagged up everything I had.

Then I moved on to the office – went through a few bookshelves and drawers with random electronics.  I finished this week with bookshelves in other locations and started the basement files.

What I Purged and Where It Went

2 kitchen sized trash bags and 3 grocery store bags of clothing -> clothing drop at the Roudenbush Old Nab preschool parking lot.

1 old, but working, digital camera -> Offered on Freecycle (was picked up that evening)

Set of curtain rods -> Offered on Freecycle (picked up next day)

Large 9×11 size envelop with old Christmas cards  ->  St. Jude’s for their card recycling program.

30 (?) Children’s books ->  I will save these for a spring yard sale, but may rethink that if I run out of space

10 Cookbooks and other misc books -> Donated to  JV Fletcher Library for their library book sales

Lots of paper( I had user’s manuals from things I don’t even own anymore!)  ->  Recycle bin

Notes from college classes (printed on one side only) -> Saved for use in my printer
Did anyone print double sided 10 + years ago???

Very old bank and utility statements ->  Will be shredded, then recycled

Lots of old electronics ->  Whatever still works will be offered on Freecycle or perhaps sold through Gazelle.  The rest will be recycled.

Did you join me?  How did you do?


Where to Recycle Clothes And Shoes

SPRING!  I love feeling the warm sun, hearing birds sing and seeing the flowers bloom.  I also love cleaning out the closets!  Putting away the boots, snow pants, heavy jackets and sweaters!  And cleaning out what I know won’t fit next year.  But where do you take the stuff?  Whether you are willing to take them to a specific location or want the convenience of putting them out on your door step, I have an option for you.

Good Condition 

The Lowell Wish Project is a local organization that helps those in need in the Merrimack Valley area.  Donations go directly to the individuals who request them through their social workers or other agencies.  For this reason, the items donated need to be in good condition.  They have needs for clothing for babies through very large adults. Normally Lowell Wish only needs casual clothing, however with Easter coming, they will accept dresses and suit through April 23.  Lowell Wish accepts many other items including blankets, sheets, mattresses, furniture, and baby gear.  See their website for full details.
Drop off at 1 A Foundry St. Lowell  Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat. 9am – 2pm, 

The WFN is accepting CHILDREN’S (baby thru teen) clothing for their Spring Clothing Sale.  The sale will be part of the Roudenbush Town Wide Yard Sale on the Abbot School Lawn On April 30.
Where: Locations around Westford – 45 Pleasant St., 13 Depot St. , 47 Providence Rd. , 15 Villanova Dr.

Big Brother Big Sister works to provide children with one-to-one friendships with adult mentors.  Your donations are sold to thrift stores.  The money supports their many programs. BBBS accepts many items including stuffed animals, toys, small appliances and more.
Where:  Your house.  BBBS will pick up donations.  See website to arrange a pickup.

Priceless Prom (Prom and Bridesmaid Dresses)
Priceless Prom helps girls find dresses for the Prom.  They accept Prom and Bridesmaid dresses  within the 3 year fashion range.

Suitability  (Women’s Professional Clothing)
Suitability is committed to helping women become self sufficient and economically independent. They provide interview clothing, free of charge, for women applying for positions at any level.  Clothing must be ready to wear.
Where: 536 Pawtucket Blvd, Lowell;  By appointment.  Call 978-934-8898.

Not So Good Condition 

Re-purpose Clothing into:
  • Cleaning Cloths – Cut up old T-Shirts or other appropriate material to use in place of a paper towel.  They work so much better.
  • Reusable Napkins – I made my children tie dye T-Shirts years ago. When they outgrew them, I just couldn’t get rid of them.  So I cut them up and made napkins.  Now, when I wipe my mouth, I smile.

Public Clothing Drop Boxes
Once you are set on napkins and rags, you can drop unwearable clothing at the Public Clothing Drops around town.  I had a hard time confirming this, but it is my understanding that the company who owns these bins sorts the clothes.  The wearable ones are sold to thrift stores.  Unwearable items are sold in bulk to companies that shred them for other uses.

Where:  Old Nab Preschool, Abbot School

Flip Flops 
Old Navy has teamed up with TerraCycle to upcycle old flip flops into playgrounds.
Where: Collection bins at Old Navy through May 21st.

Running Shoes  
Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program takes any brand old, worn out athletic shoes and recycles them into playground surfaces.  
Where: Nike Outlet at the Wrentham Outlet
Converse Community Store North Andover

Have You Started Cleaning Out?  Do You Try to Donate or Repurpose what you can?


Designed by Clever Kiwi