textile recycling

The City of Newton has partnered with HELPSY to provide Newton residents with curbside textile collection by appointment. HELPSY is a for-profit B Corp with an environmental mission to radically change the way people think about clothing donation. They make reusing and recycling your clothes and shoes more convenient and easier than ever. They collected over 30 million pounds of clothes last year!

  1. To make an appointment fill out this form or visit www.helpsy.co/newtonma.
  2. On the day of your appointment, set your items out in a plastic bag at the curb. HELPSY will send a reminder email and/or text ahead of your appointment.

Review the list of accepted items for curbside textile pickup.

What to donate:

Clothing: Shirts, pants, jackets, suits, hats, belts, ties, gloves, scarves, socks (even single ones) undergarments, handbags, backpacks in any style, age or condition.
Footwear: Shoes, sandals, sneakers, cleats, boots, flip-flops, and slippers.
Household textiles (even stained and torn items): Curtains, drapes, sheets, blankets, comforters, towels, table linens, and throw rugs.

The only UNACCEPTABLE donations are:

Wet or moldy items.
Items that are contaminated with oil or hazardous substances.

You can also find drop-off locations where you can donate your used textiles.

Do not place clothing and other textiles in your curbside recycling bin. Items will get tangled in recycling machinery and can cause injury to workers.


Why donate your old textiles?

  • Your textiles are an economic resource. Massachusetts is home to more than 25 businesses, manufacturers and non-profit organizations that sort, reuse, upcycle, or convert used textiles into new products. Dozens more businesses are involved in the resale of clothing, locally and overseas, which in turn supports cottage industries in developing nations.
  • Donating used textiles supports local charitable organizations that provide jobs and job training to Massachusetts residents.
  • Donated textiles provide low-cost, quality clothing and household linens to residents with a limited budget.
  • Keeping used textiles out of the trash reduces disposal costs for local government, businesses and residents.

Repurpose your undesired clothing and accessories

Trying to be more conscious about what and how much you are buying is good—only purchasing sustainable clothing is even better. However, there is one thing that can’t be overlooked (and too often is): the clothes that are already sitting in your closet, gathering dust. While buying less certainly benefits your waste footprint and your wallet, we encourage you to go even further and, actually repurpose or upcycle your old clothing that sparks nothing other than a fit of sneezes. This website has tons of ideas based on the material or desired item you want to upcycle. It is inevitable that you will have clothing you still want to donate, which is why we put together a comprehensive guide to managing your unwanted textiles, clothing, and accessories below.

Your used textiles are a valuable resource!

Contrary to popular belief, donations in any condition are welcomed by for-profit and non-profit textile collectors alike. This includes items with stains, rips, missing buttons or broken zippers. Why? Textiles are a valuable commodity! Items that don’t sell in a thrift store are baled and sold to brokers or graders who sell to overseas markets. In developing nations, used clothing and textiles supply local enterprises with materials to repair and resell.

Donating old textiles has many environmental benefits

  • Textiles make up 5% of the waste stream in Massachusetts. This is low-hanging fruit to get out of the trash!
  • Textile reuse and recycling has the second highest potential environmental impact on reducing greenhouse gases compared to other recyclables. Recycling 2.3 million tons of clothing per year is the equivalent of removing 1.3 million cars from U.S. roads.
  • Textile recycling decreases the amount of trash we burn in waste-to-energy facilities.
  • Cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world. Cotton is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world. It takes one-third of a pound of pesticides to make one t-shirt.
  • It can take 2,700 liters of water to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt.
  • Production of synthetic (petroleum-based) fibers like polyester and nylon produce volatile organic compounds, nitrous oxide (a greenhouse gas) and consumer large amounts of water.

What happens to my donated textiles?

  • About 45% of donated textiles are sold as secondhand apparel, either through charitable organizations or for-profit exporters that sell baled clothing to developing countries.
  • Organizations such as Goodwill and Salvation Army operate retail stores where donated clothing and household items are sold. Clothing and textiles that don’t sell in the stores are baled and sold to textile brokers. Both activities generate revenue to support their core missions.
  • For-profit textile recyclers sort, grade and bale textiles and sell them to export markets. Clothing exports from North America supply high quality product to local entrepreneurs in Africa, Latin America, and other regions.
  • Another 30% is turned into industrial wiping cloths. ERC Wiping Products (Lynn, MA) cuts used clothing and other textiles into rags and sells them to commercial garages and public works operations.
  • The remaining 20% is sent to fiber converters like Millbury Textile Recycling (Millbury, MA) where textiles are broken down into their basic fiber components to be re-manufactured into insulation for autos and homes, carpet padding or soundproofing materials. Companies like Boston-based Project Repat make custom quilts and blankets out of old t-shirts. These “upcycled” products are sewn at factories in Woburn, Lawrence and New Bedford that pay workers a fair and living wage.