Monday, January 30, 2017


In consideration of our landfills and the pollution of our environment, we also have to think about textile disposal. The facts are staggering (here and here – or you can readily do your own research). Besides the issue of space in the landfill, apparently as textiles decompose, they emit methane (greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere.

As a society, we throw a lot of textiles into the landfill – 70 pounds per person annually. Mike and I wear our t-shirts, jeans, and sweatshirts until they’re literally rags (literally!), which means that by the time we dispose of them, they aren’t fit for the thrift store. We mostly cut them into rags. But, we do have other troublesome textiles to dispose of.

My reusable mesh produce bags arrived today
Worn out boots and shoes (also the occasional purse)
Two well-worn crocheted afghans made by our mothers
An ancient quilt
Pillows – and dog pillows
Old towels – technically still serviceable but looking tired
A bedspread and shams

Beyond donating to the thrift store or cutting into rags, what are some ideas for textile reuse?
·       Buttoned shirts can be re-made into aprons and throw pillows.
·       T-shirts can become quilts, pillows, rugs.
·       Jeans can become quilts, bags, skirts, potholders, rugs.
·       The stuffing in human pillows can be reused in dog pillows.
·       Dog pillows can be re-covered.
·       Linens (tablecloths, pillowcases, dresser scarves, etc.) can be made into tote bags, doll outfits, placemats, even quilts.
·       Afghans and sweaters might be unraveled and the yarn repurposed. Or, some people simply cut them into mittens and hats.
·       Towels can become padding for potholders.
·       Sheets can be cut into strips and crocheted into rugs.
·       Old boots can be outdoor planters. I’ve seen them potted with “hen and chicks.”
 Sister-in-law Joanne hooks rugs out of old wool coats.

Any fabric with some life to it can be repurposed in some way. The list is endless. When it comes right down to it, it’s just a matter of using your imagination or borrowing ideas from someone else. The internet abounds with ideas and instructions. (I have a “Reduce – Reuse – Recycle” board on Pinterest.) We should  consider all options before tossing into the landfill.

How do you repurpose textiles? KW


Hallie said...

The lifecycle of a t-shirt in my world: 1) wearable in public 2) grubby work shirt 3) rag 4) trash.

I used to have a tier for gym wear but now I enjoy that evil synthetic stuff for the gym. *sigh*

Kathy said...

Go ahead and enjoy the life out of it, but when it's ready to be a rag -- and it won't make a good cleaning rag -- we'll incorporate it into the rag rugs we're going to make. I've identified at least three sweatshirts ready to become rugs.

Chris said...

I want the cookies in the background! They look delicious!!

Kathy said...

Those are M&M Shortbread cookies. I found the recipe on a bag of M&Ms probably 7 years ago or so. I never saw it again after that one time. I think they're delicious, but I usually make cookies with better nutritional value.

Chris said...

I love shortbread cookies! I googled and found several recipes but they weren't the same, so don't know which is yours.

Kathy said...

I will post my recipe today.