During the holidays I had a bit of spare time and decided to do some de-cluttering. Even when a couple of years ago, I embarked upon a big decluttering task and I got rid off so many stuff, I realised I still kept clothes I wasn’t wearing, but also items that were now in bad condition and needed to go. That last category is usually tricky, because worn-out/stained/damaged items can’t really be donated to be reused.

Today I am writing about some initiatives to divert these common items from landfill.

Runners/Sport shoes

This type of sport footwear is a common example of shoes that go to landfill, because often after years of use they are so worn-out that can’t be reused.

Recently I learned about a program in Australia called Save Our Soles Footwear Recycling Initiative. They are aiming to divert all these shoes from landfill by extracting reusable components (rubber, leather and fibres) and use them to manufacture new products.

At the moment, they only have a pilot program in Victoria, but hopefully it will expand to other states. Visit this website to find out the collection bins which are located in participating retail shops.

If you are in USA, this article can be useful.


Clothing items can be easy donated when they are in good condition, but when they are damaged many times end up in landfill as people don’t know what to do with them. These are some options to consider:

  • Re-purpose: fabrics like cotton from an old T-Shirt can be excellent to clean the house. We usually cut them in medium size squares and sew the borders for durability – it is not mandatory, I have used some without the border and they lasted long time. These type of rags can replace disposable cleaning towels and paper towels. If you (or someone you know) are crafty, you can also turn these fabrics into other useful items.
  • Donate: In Australia, companies like H&M have a sustainability program to recycle clothes from any brand and any condition. All you have to do is to drop off the garments in the collection boxes. From a big fast fashion company like this, it is good to see that at least they are trying to do something about the waste issue they largely contribute.

  • Compost: Natural fibres like cotton, wool, hemp, silk, bamboo can be easily composted leaving no trace. We have done this many times, ideally you want to cut the fabric in smaller pieces so that the process is quicker. 1MillionWomen has a good article about this topic, you can read it here. In the photo below, you can see an old towel my husband used to cover a compost pile some months ago, it is still there but it has many holes.
Towel used to cover a compost pile

Towel used to cover a compost pile

Bed linen and towels

Talking advantage of the momentum, I also got rid of some old stained towels. As I mentioned, I usually use these towels to make rags for the kitchen or cleaning, but as I already own too many, so I gave them to my husband, he needed them to cover a compost pile in the garden (as the towel shown in the photo above which is starting to break down).

However, this type of textiles can be also recycled. If you are reading from Australia, you can recycle them using the Sheridan Recycling Program. They are receiving old towels, quilt cover and sheets from any brand. These are made into recycled yarn, that is reused into new products.

H&M also accepts textiles, so I think these products can be recycled through their program too.

Another option is to donate them to animal shelters, they often need these items.


Socks in one of those products that can’t really be donated and they are harder to compost because even when some are made from natural fibres like cotton, they also use other synthetic materials for the elastic part.

Upcycle/repurpose them is a good way to give them another go. Check these three ideas in this article from 1MillionWomen. I think I am going to try the Phone Armband with some of my old socks.

If you are not into crafts, then recycling is the way to go. In Australia, there is a specif program for socks created by Manrags. All you have to do is to buy a home compostable satchel and send them your clean old socks for recycling. You’ll find all the information in the website.

If you are reading from another country, I believe any program accepting textiles should be ok with old socks (including H&M program), ask Mr Google.

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” – The Dalai Lama

That’s it for today. Is there any other initiative you know to help reduce this type of waste? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading,