Recycle Unwanted Clothing and Textiles in San Francisco

What do tote bags, oven mitts, chair cushions, carpet padding, and rugs have in common? They can all be made from recycled clothes and other textiles.

Many cities, including San Francisco, are making new efforts to collect old clothes and other textiles for recycling. Wearable items, recycled though a textile collection program, can be worn again. This ensures that the energy which once went into making the product is respected and optimally used. Post-consumer textiles that are threadbare, stained or torn can be made into other practical products, such as rags for commercial and residential use and insulation for automobiles and homes.

Why is it important to donate and recycle clothes and other textiles? Just like recycling bottles, cans, and paper and composting food scraps and plant cuttings, recycling textiles keeps materials out of landfills and incinerators.

The U.S. generates 25 billion pounds of textile waste per year; that’s about 82 pounds per resident. On average, each person donates or recycles 12 pounds of clothing discards but sends 70 pounds to landfills. It is within our power to change that for the better.

Increasingly, environmentally minded fashion designers use recycled textiles to create handbags, place mats, drink coasters, and coin purses. One enterprise remakes old work shirts into adorable dresses for little girls. Others invent stylish skirts, baby shoes, and fun neckties. At least one designer has turned white T-shirts into a wedding dress.

How can San Francisco residents add to these efforts? Please fold all old clothes and other textiles, put them in an open-top cardboard box, and schedule a special pickup with Recology. Send us an email through the “contact us” form on or call (415) 330-1300.

These simple steps help San Francisco get closer to zero waste, an initiative set by our city to help protect the environment. In this way, recycling textiles — like reducing waste, practicing reuse, and participating in the blue and green bin program — is an opportunity to be part of the solution.

7 Responses to “Recycle Unwanted Clothing and Textiles in San Francisco

  • Katherine
    5 years ago

    How do we get Textile recycling in the city of Santa Clara? Do citizens need to start a petition? Are there resources available to demonstrate how to get this process started?


    • Hi Katherine, this is a service established by cities. If interested, it’s best to contact your local representatives.

  • unused product, the better we give to people who need or you can also recycle it into objects that can be useful

  • Going zero waste is a tough job so far, but once people see all the benefits from recycling it will become a common thing. I admire all the efforts that San Francisco puts in that movement, and in order to do the task easier we should start educating not only adults but children as well!

  • Richard Manso
    5 years ago

    what about used pillows? textile cases and filling?

  • Marian Brischle
    5 years ago

    Do you have the capability of shredding papers? If so, where should they be delivered?

    • Recology Team
      5 years ago

      Shredded paper can be recycled (please place in a paper bag and place in your blue bin).

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