For this year’s America Recycles Week, I decided to focus on clothes recycling, a seldom-discussed but important recycling topic.

As the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) writes, “Thanks to fast fashion, the average American now discards 68 pounds of clothing a year, wasting energy, water and landfill space.” We need to cut down on our clothing waste.

To start with, I’ve got 10 good ways to recycle clothes, and then I’ve got 3 ways to buy recycled clothes.

Feel free to add more tips or companies in the comments below if some come to mind.

10 Ways to Recycle Clothes

1. Pass them on to someone you know (who can use them) — a cousin, brother, sister, friend, etc. When you do this, you can save unnecessary transport.

2. Look for a Goodwill, Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of America, or other such organization to donate the clothes to.

3. Have a garage sale. Make some money off of your old clothes in a green way.

4. Another way to potentially make some money or get something for your old clothes is bring them to a consignment shop, where you can often get a store credit for clothes you donate.

5. Have some stained t-shirts? Tie-die them. We used to do this when I was a kid — loved it.

6. Hopeless old clothes may not be useful for any of the ideas above. In such a case, you can cut such clothes up and use them as rags or handkerchiefs.

7. Sign up to participate in Freecycle or ecofreek, where you can give and get stuff for free as you wish.

8. If you have the skills, or want to try to obtain them, cut old clothes into little squares or other shapes and make a quilt or textile art out of them.

9. You can also try revamping old clothes you are tired of, giving them new decorations, cutting them a bit, or combining pieces of different clothes you like and using the rest as rags or handkerchiefs, as discussed above.

10. Donate your clothes to a textile recycler, like Wearable Collections in NYC, if none of the other ideas above work for you. Or to the company you bought the clothes from if they accept and recycle old clothes, like Patagonia does.

Ideas via eHow, wikiHow, NRDC.

3 Companies to Buy Recycled Clothing From

1. LooptWorks:

Launched in September 2009, Looptworks is a ground-breaking business that repurposes abandoned materials into meaningful, long-lasting and limited-edition products. By re-using the world’s pre-consumer excess, the U.S.-based company aims to rid the world of waste while inspiring a generation to reduce their impact on the planet. The inaugural line includes jackets hoodies, skirts, shirts and graphic t-shirts for both men and women The Portland, Oregon-based start-up is led by apparel industry veterans with extensive experience from Nike, Adidas and Royal Robbins.

Quality green clothes from a U.S.-based company — what else is there to say?

2. Clothes Made from Scrap:

Clothes Made From Scrap, Inc. is a company that is committed to protecting our environment. We manufacture and market a line of clothing and accessories made from recycled plastic soda bottles and reclaimed cotton.

The website could use a little updating, but still looks like they offer good products.

3. Of course, you don’t have to buy re-manufactured clothes, but can buy clothes from second-hand shops as well, which require even much less energy (no re-manufacturing and less transport) than completely recycled clothes.

There are plenty of good eco-clothing options out there these days, but few compare to recycled clothing.

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Photo Credit: sassycrafter via flickr (CC license)