ReThread DC, the District of Columbia’s textile reuse and recovery initiative, provides local residents and visitors resources for decreasing the impact that their clothing (and other textiles) has on the environment.
The Council for Textile Recycling estimates that the average American throws away more than 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year. Textiles consisting of clothing, shoes, bed linens and towels are more than 6% of Washington, DC’s annual residential waste stream based on the 2021 Desktop Waste Characterization Study. That means our city is spending more than $200,000 a year to dispose of unwanted clothing and other textiles as trash. Sending valuable textiles to landfills or waste-to-energy facilities contributes to the causes of climate change by releasing toxic greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Reusing, recovering or recycling textiles removes them from the waste stream, extends the life of garments, provides a source of affordable clothing for local families, and serves as raw material for the development of new items
ReThread DC will:
- Create a culture of recovery and reuse in the District,
- Provide resources for minimizing and diverting textile waste, and
- Support the creation of economic opportunities in textile recovery, repair and reuse.
How Do I Get involved?
- Subscribe to our Sustainable DC Newsletter
- Follow our Reuse DC Events to find out about upcoming opportunities to learn more about textile recovery, reuse, repair and recycling.
What Can I Do?
Residents and visitors to the District should follow the general waste hierarchy that moves along a continuum from focusing on reducing textiles at the source to minimizing disposal.
Source Reduction: Shop and Swap Your Own Closet
The best way to reduce textile waste is to decrease the amount of clothing and other textiles that you accumulate. Consider “Shopping” your own closet before purchasing new items. Organizing your clothing is the best way to see what you have in order to avoid making unnecessary purchases.
Reuse: Shop Thrift and Resale
If you decide that you do need something new, why not let it be “New To You.” Local thrift, resale and consignment stores are a great source for nearly new clothing and textiles. They are also a great way to make some extra money by selling your unwanted items. Some resale shops pay you cash on the spot for about half the expected sale price. Most consignment shops pay you a portion (usually 50%) of the price once the items has sold. For opportunities to buy second hand please visit the Reuse DC website.
Prompted by the low cost of clothing, it would seem as though darning socks or replacing buttons is a thing of the past. Repairing and “rewearing” extends the life of your clothing. Bring your items in need of repair to the free community repair events offered by Fix-It DC. To look for professional repair businesses in the District visit the Reuse DC website.
Unwanted clothing and textiles do not belong in the trash. The collection and redistribution of clothing and other textiles benefit local residents and keeps reusable and recoverable items out of the waste stream. Find local donation sites and donation pick-up information through Reuse DC. Items that are dry and odorless should be donated regardless of their condition. Many large scale non-profit textile collectors have relationships with secondary markets that purchase unsellable clothing for use as wiping rags and for industrial fill material. Clothing retailer H&M will accept items in any condition in their stores.
Clothing that is disposed of is often ends up in a landfill. The decay of textiles contributes to the production of lethal gases that contribute to climate change. So before you dispose of clothing or textiles be sure you have exhausted all other possible options for reuse and recycling.