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This company wants to recycle your old, worn-out socks and turn them into dog beds

So far the project has repurposed 246,000 socks, preventing over 20,000 pounds of material waste from entering landfills.

sock recycling

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Smartwool's The Second Cut Project has created a recycling program that'll knock your hole-y socks off.

We all hold onto clothing items for different reasons. Maybe we think we can get more wear out of them if we repair them, or we may feel guilty for throwing clothes away — yes, even socks with holes that mysteriously lost their other half months ago.

Many of us deal with these useless garments by shoving them into the deep corners of our drawers because there's seemingly no other responsible way to discard them.

Allow your top drawer to breathe a sigh of relief, as Smartwool has developed a solution.

Giving a second life to old socks

Smartwool's The Second Cut Project aims to keep resources in circulation, and it's starting by giving old socks a second chance beyond landfills.

Partnering with Material Return, the Second Cut Project collects and deconstructs hard-to-recycle socks made from numerous synthetic materials to make new goods, like dog beds.

How to recycle your socks

Here's how this sock recycling program works:

Order a free take-back bag and pay approximately $5 for ground shipping, or enjoy free shipping if you purchase $75 of Smartwool's sustainably made outdoor apparel and socks.   

Once you receive your bag, fill it up with old (clean) socks of any material from any brand, attach the pre-paid label, and drop it off at a FedEx location near you. 

Leave each sock loose in the bag — don't fold, roll, or attach matching socks. 

Your unwanted socks will then get turned into Smartwool's dog beds, Second Cut K9 Camp Cushions.

So far, Smartwool has repurposed 246,000 socks, preventing over 20,000 pounds of material waste from entering landfills. Its goal is to reach 400,000 socks by the end of this year.

With its Second Cut Project, Smartwool is creating products using natural materials and a system to keep these materials in circulation for as long as possible. This circularity keeps waste out of landfills, conserves resources, and saves energy.

Why sock recycling is important

In 2019, an estimated 21 billion pairs of socks were made and sold. And given that socks are one of the most discarded pieces of apparel, this means a lot of textile — or fabric — waste.

A Samsung study revealed that the average person in the U.K. loses 15 socks a year, or 1,264 in a lifetime. Multiply this by 68 million Brits, and that's roughly one billion socks wasted each year just in one country.

Once these socks end up in a landfill, it can take anywhere from a year to over 200 years for them to break down if they don't get incinerated. 

Either way, fabrics like socks release harmful gas pollutants into the air that can cause or worsen respiratory diseases like asthma.

Programs like Smartwool's sock recycling can give you the peace of mind that you can finally relinquish the socks that haven't seen the light of day in years to a responsible new home inside Fido's bed. All without guilt.

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