A stitch in time saves the planet

What do an unmatched sock, threadbare sheets and a ripped up old t-shirt have in common? They’re all textiles we’re likely to toss. Just how much used clothing and bedding do we discard? Try these facts on for size and learn how to properly get rid of textiles at every stage of their use inside this issue!

Patching together the facts: It takes 715 gallons of water to make one T-shirt. 2,400 tons of jeans get turned into insulation each year. Every year Americans generate 17 million tons of discarded textiles. 15% gets recycled. 20% of used textiles get burned for energy. 65%, or 11 million tons, are dumped in U.S. landfills.
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Be a sustainable shopper

Give life to old clothes! By donating your clothing to your local thrift stores, or choosing to buy second-hand, you are doing your part to give back to your community, reduce landfill waste and save valuable resources like water and energy.

Reuse Day all the way

boxes of used items in box by the curb

One way to donate your clothing is through our bi-annual Reuse and Cleanup Days Program! In partnership with Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery and Republic Services, residents have two opportunities a year where they can donate in a sustainable way.

Day 1: Reuse Day. Usable items, like textiles, shoes and housewares that are in good condition, can be placed at the curb for donation. Mt. Diablo Resource Recovery picks up the items and distributes them to those in need.

Day 2: Cleanup Day. All materials during Cleanup Day go to landfill. Residents can set out up to two cubic yards—or 14, 32-gallon bags—of material. Remember, Household Hazardous Waste should not be set out during the Cleanup Day.

In the coming months, you will get a brochure in the mail with your pick-up dates. For more information about Reuse and Clean-Up Days, and what items are accepted, go to

Natural Fibers

Where it goes

Has your style or size changed? Here’s how to handle clothes and other fabric items that you don’t need anymore:

An outfit arranged like a person demonstrates how to handle clothes as they wear out.To keep your clothes lasting longer, get into mending! You can find lessons online or at a local quilt or sewing shop, or take them to a local tailor for repairs and alterations. When it's time to pass them along, here's where they can go: 1 - If they don't match your style or fit, pass them onto someone else! 2 - When they're starting to wear out, use them as rags around the house, garage, or turn them into totes, as described in the Kid's Corner. 3 - For items like socks, or others clean fabrics that are just not usable, drop them at Salvation Army or Goodwill where they'll find their next life as fiber insulation. 4 - If your items have chemicals, paint, or oil on them, they need to be thrown out in the Landfill cart.

Getting ready for SB1383

smell you later, food waste!

Starting January 2022, all California residents will be required to separate organic waste from their landfill waste.

You can prepare for this change by adjusting your habits now:

  • Prevent food waste. Find ways you can create a meal with what you have in your fridge before you shop. Freeze any perishable items that you want to use in the future.
  • Plan and prep ahead. Keep your grocery shopping list tidy and your stomach full for the week by meal prepping.

If you are not already using your green cart, you can participate in Republic Services’ organics program at no additional cost. Visit RecycleSmart.org/houses/green-cart for tips on how to get started or contact Republic Services at 925-685-4711 to update your service.

To learn more about SB 1383, visit RecycleSmart.org/1383

A tip from Madeleine S. in Alamo

Clothes to home

putting old clothes in a box

Hi RecycleSmart!

My friends and I are trying to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to clothing. We’ve found some stores that accept used clothes to be recycled or donated.

Madewell (in Walnut Creek) and Levi’s stores take donated denim. They resell them or turn them into cotton fiber insulation.

H&M (in Walnut Creek) will take textiles from any brand in any condition—even socks and old sheets!

Sports Basement (in Walnut Creek) accepts used shoes and tennis balls for repair and reuse.

The North Face’s Clothes the Loop program accepts gently used apparel and footwear for reuse (Berkeley and Vacaville).

Call ahead to confirm program details.

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Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

Send your ideas to Authority@RecycleSmart.org


Totes crafty

kids corner game

Click the image above to print out at full size.


Turn your shirt inside out.


Using the fabric scissors, cut off the sleeves along the seam and cut a deep U from the neckline.


Make sure the bottom edges line up, then cut 3” vertical strips along the entire bottom edge of the shirt.


Tie the front and back (red) strips together with a simple knot. Repeat along the entire bottom edge.


To close the gaps between each knot, tie the front strip to the back of the adjacent strip. Make sure to pull these tight for reinforcement!


After both rows of knots are completed, tie a double knot on each end.


Turn your bag inside out, and ta-da! Your bag is complete!