I like saving scraps of fabric from my sewing. They usually come in handy for other projects. However, there is a point when a scrap is just too small to be worth saving, and I don’t want to clutter up my storage space with tiny little bits. On the other hand, I feel like the scraps are perfectly good clean fibers, and I hate to just send them to the landfill.
A while back, Zoe mentioned that in the UK, the charity she used to work for (TRAID) sent scraps on for textile recycling—to be turned into insulation and stuffing and whatever else uses short mixed fibers. I wondered if any of the thrift shops on my side of the pond were doing the same thing. I started saving a (large) bag of just the fabric scraps too small to keep, which took a surprisingly long time to fill up, considering it had all the scraps from this fall’s batches of Fiddleheads. (Probably due to the fact that I can’t bring myself to part with any piece of slightly felted cashmere big enough to be remotely useful. Want some cashmere pieces? Let me know!) I also had a few garments that weren’t really fixable any more, but I figured had life left in at least some of the fibers.
I thought about contacting charity shops every once in a while, but basically put it off until the scrap bag was too full to ignore, and then sent out emails. Good news, USA-dwelling, fabric-cutting folks: Goodwill will take your scraps!
This was my message:
I have some worn-out clothing and fabric scraps which I don’t think a thrift store would be able to sell. However, I would still like to keep them out of the landfill! I know that some thrift stores pass on worn out clothes and scraps to recyclers so that they can be remade into something else, and I am wondering if your store does this?
And this is what I got back:
Yes, most fabrics that cannot be sold continue to be recycled in the manner outlined below at all our locations.
Hooray! Now I
don’t feel like an idiot for saving a big bag of tiny fabric scraps can be a good citizen and recycle. I also took some things I was ready to part with that I thought Goodwill would be able to sell—seems only fair as they are providing this service.
A note: if you don’t have a Goodwill store in your area and decide to contact local thrift shops, I’ve had much better results via email than over the phone. The people I got when I called were more likely to assure me that they try to sell everything before sending it overseas, etc., than to have the answer I was looking for.
Oh, good to know! Thanks for sharing!
Definitely! You’re very welcome.
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this is great!! thank you!!
I am so stubborn about throwing stuff out if I can think of any use for it, yay!!! I don’t feel crazy for saving tons of scraps anymore lol 😀
Ha ha yeah, I know what you mean! You’re so welcome. 🙂
can u pls , what kind of fabric scraps are belonging with u..
Wow, thank you! It’s a shame that 70 pounds of clothing are thrown per person for year, and 85% goes to landfills instead of being recycled. Now I know where my big bag of free T-shirt scraps go! My roommates think I’m crazy, I’m such a recycling fanatic xD.
I’m so glad I stumbled upon your Research! I work in a drapery workroom and want to keep scraps out of the landfill. Better yet Anybody know where to “discard” large amounts of 5″ BY 54″ designer home decorating fabric and drapery linings?
HI Janette, thanks for helping to recycle fabric scraps! I wonder if there are any shops near you that sell re-used craft supplies and fabric? Those pieces sound big enough that some crafters might be able to use them, even if you bundled them up and gave them to Goodwill …
Hi, I don’t know if you are still looking for someplace to dispose of extra fabric, but if you can list it on freecycle.org someone would likely pick it up in a heartbeat
Hi Kelly, yes I think listing bigger pieces of fabric for free is a great way to pass them on—I once had a bunch of felted sweater scraps that I needed to move out, put a post on Craiglist, and within two days someone came and got them all! I’m talking here about scraps that really are too small to use, and trying to give those at least one more life before they end up in the landfill.
In my research I found this organization: https://recyclenation.com/2013/06/grownyc-textile-recycling-program/ Grow NYC only takes large scraps.
Good to know, thanks Kara!
Check with your local sewing guild or quilt guild. Drapery fabrics make great quilting fabrics. I know I buy them in small quantities and for quilts leftovers work just fine. Drapery linings make great foundations when doing foundation piecing. I use them often.
Just came across this as I was searching for ways to recycle scraps. Thank you soooo much!!
Good to know! I’ve been storing fabric scraps for the same reasons. I figured maybe I would make a stuffed animal that needed stuffing one day? Also…is your offer on the felted cashmere available? I use scrap wool to make designs in the back of wool diaper covers for my babies (I don’t sell what I make, just for personal use). (Google wool diaper soakers and you’ll see the cutest baby butts).
Hi Tammi, yes I think scraps can be good for stuffing, appliques, etc., and yes I still have a whole bunch of cashmere scraps! Please drop me an email (through the contact page) and we’ll figure that out!
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Thanks Tasha! I’m cleaning out my relatives house. Lots of clothing and fabric. Clothing is out of style or stained! Glad there’s a use for it!
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i love skirts and love to rescue them from their death .. hate it when they end up unwanted or are doomed to be cut up .. id love to see any unwanted skirts you might be thinking of cutting up before you do . don’t mind wear and tare and even the od hole or mark .. if the skirt is gorgeous to me id still rescue . please contact me via email@example.com thanks
I would love some cashmere pieces! But this is an old post! lol Thank you for this information, I’ve been wanting to know.