If you’re getting ready to do a little spring cleaning, read on: You may be able to trade in your old clothes for discounts on new duds, courtesy of Patagonia.
Through Patagonia’s Worn Wear program, the company will take back your used items and issue you store credit for up to 50% of their resale prices. If the items can’t be resold, Patagonia will recycle them in a responsible way that ensures they won’t end up in a landfill.
Keeping old garments out of landfills is a big deal. The EPA estimates that 85% of U.S. textiles, the majority of which is discarded clothing, ends up in landfills or is burned. In 2018 alone, the United States generated 17 million tons of textile waste, and just 2.5 million tons — 14.7% — was recycled.
The textile waste “crisis,” as some have called it, has spurred both corporations and governments to take action. Major clothing companies like Levi’s and Madewell have joined Patagonia in creating trade-in programs, while Massachusetts recently became the first U.S. state to mandate textile recycling.
Still, textile waste remains a major problem. According to the nonprofit Center for EcoTechnology, textile waste makes up nearly 10% of all solid waste produced in America each year. And that waste can come with additional, hidden environmental costs.
“Each state has an unequal amount of space left in their landfills,” the Center for EcoTechnology writes on its website, “which will cause some states and large cities to ship their trash out of the area, producing more greenhouse gases in the process of transportation than if it were to sit in a dump for a year.”
Patagonia’s program makes it quick and easy to trade in your old clothing for store credit. Simply visit Patagonia’s Worn Wear website to see if your items are eligible. If they are (no used underwear, please — though you can trade in used underwear for discounts through Knickey), you can choose to print out a $7 flat-rate shipping label and mail them in or take them to a local Patagonia store.
When it comes to creating a sustainable, circular economy, every little bit helps, and trading in or recycling used clothing is a great place to start. By showing how easy the process can be, Patagonia has provided a blueprint for other companies to follow in the future.
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