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Clothing & Textiles Recycling

The City of Cambridge offers free weekly curbside textiles collection, as well as drop-off bins at select locations. To schedule your free pick-up, use the Clothing/Textiles Collection tool below. Approximately 95% of textiles and accessories could be reused/repurposed. This initiative supports the city's goals of reducing waste and is launched in accordance with recommendations from the City's Zero Waste Master Plan.

What clothing and textiles are accepted? All clean and dry pieces, even with stains or missing buttons, can be re‐used and repurposed. Don’t forget linens, towels, shoes, and accessories, like hats, gloves, socks, underwear, belts, purses, handbags, of any style, age or condition. For more details see FAQs below.

 

Schedule a Pick-Up

This is a free service to Cambridge residents, but advanced scheduling is required. To schedule a collection, use the Clothing/Textiles Collection tool below.

 

If you would like to drop-off your textiles, use the Get Rid of It Right tab above and search “textiles” to find a drop-off bin near you.

How do I recycle my clothing or textiles?

Visit the Clothing/Textiles Collection tool above to schedule your free curbside collection of clothing and textiles. Generally, collections occur every Tuesday, but schedule your collection online to get an exact date for collection.

Or bring your clothing to a drop off bin .
 

What textiles are accepted?

Anything you can wear, sleep in, or dry yourself off with!
All clean and dry textiles, even pieces with stains or missing buttons, can be re‐used and repurposed.

Don’t forget linens, towels, shoes and accessories, like hats, gloves, socks, underwear, belts, ties, purses, handbags, of any style, age or condition.

For a more complete list see here:

Shoes & Footwear

  •  (in pairs, tie laces together, if possible)

All Clothing including:
• Socks
• Pajamas
• Slips
• Bras
• Underwear
Accessories:
• Hats
• Bags (pocketbooks, backpacks, duffle bags, totes)
• Belts
• Gloves
• Ties
• Scarves
• Bathrobes
Linens:
• Sheets
• Blankets
• Towels
• Curtains/Drapes
• Aprons
• Dish cloths
• Cloth napkins
• Table linens
• Comforters
• Throw rugs
• Placemats
Other:
• Halloween costumes
• Sports jerseys
• Pet clothing
• Canvas

Do I need to be home for the pick-up?

No. Place your bag(s) of textiles out by 7:00am the morning of the collection with note saying “Textiles Pickup” attached. Items must be placed curbside or in a visible location (walkway/porch). The collection crew will pick up your textiles before 4:00 pm. Do not place the items at the curb earlier than 6pm the day before your collection.

If your trash collection is the same day as this textile collection, please leave your labeled bag(s) near your front door or porch. (Plastic bags are strongly recommended.)
 

Are there special bags to use for this program?

No. You can use your own bags. A note saying “Textiles Pickup” should be attached. Plastic bags are strongly recommended.

What if I have a problem with my collection?

Who do you contact if you see an overflowing drop-off bin?

If a bin is full, please notify HELPSY at helpsy.co/contact.

What happens to the materials collected?

Every item is examined by hand. Approximately 95% of all clothing, shoes and other textiles can be given a second life. The best 40-50% are resold as clothes in the US and Latin America — that's what pays for the collections and supports so many American jobs at the sorting and retail companies. Another 25% or so are cut into wiping rags for use by different industries, bars, and contractors. The least-useful 20-25% or so would be ground into insulation. This insulation would be used in carpet padding and commercial (not residential) furniture.  

Are clothes donated, or does a company profit from the donated items?

Our textiles recovery partner, HELPSY, is a Certified B Corporation, legally obligated to prioritize its environmental mission and the well-being of its workforce alongside profitability. Proceeds from the sales of clothing pay for:

• drivers and staff
• trucks and equipment
• payments to the City and bin hosts
• its 200 charity partners, and
• its local vendors.

 You can learn more about HELPSY on their website.
 

Is there a way to get clothes to local residents in need?

Yes, there are several local efforts to collect and distribute textiles locally.  

The City is partnering with HELPSY because they will accept both good-condition and poor-condition items. And, HELPSY is terrific at the logistics. The expensive part is getting the right clothes to people who want and need them. That is what HELPSY does. Thrift stores also help with this, and HELPSY currently buys more than 40,000 pounds each week of surplus clothes from Boston-area thrift stores. This helps thrift stores turn over their inventory and fund their missions.

Why is textile recycling important?

In Cambridge, textiles make up 7% of our trash, matching the national average. The apparel industry produces 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of the world’s industrial water pollution. By recovering textiles from the trash, we can reduce global climate emissions, water consumption, and our waste in landfills.

While 95% of all clothing, shoes and other textiles could be given a second life, 85% are dumped in the landfill or incinerator. Nevertheless, more than 84% of textiles end up in a landfill or an incinerator, according to the EPA. Capacity for trash in Massachusetts is declining and we must recycle, compost, and reduce/reuse more!

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also recognizes the importance of textile recycling and has recently announced a waste ban on textiles will go into effect November 2022.

 

Will HELPSY pick up other items like small household items?

No. HELPSY will only pick-up clothing and textiles. Use the "Get Rid of It Right” tool above to determine how to dispose of these items. 
Page was posted on 11/22/2021 3:46 PM
Page was last modified on 7/28/2022 3:18 PM
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