How to Recycle Your Underwear

by | Jun 12, 2009 09:39 AM ET

On Stuff Mom Never Told You, Molly and I recently podcasted about surprising things that you can recycle. We covered athletic shoes, cell phones, blue jeans, prom dresses and so on. But a kindly listener let us know that we'd missed out on one intriguing item: bras. A growing number of charitable organizations, including Bosom Buddy Recycling Program in Arizona, accept gently used bras to redistribute to low-income women. Across the pond, BCR Global Textiles also collects used bras and distributes them to developing countries.

That listener email got me thinking about what else men and women can do with their unmentionables once they're done with them. Surely there's a green option out there for disposing of our skivvies.

For the outdoorsy types, Patagonia allows customers to return used long underwear, among other products, for recycling. The company's Common Threads Garment Recycling Program converts the worn-out base layers into brand new Patagonia duds. Another program called Project Underwear accepts clean, used underwear in good condition and distributes it to different countries. The Web site even promises a postcard (remember those?) from the village that the goods end up in.

If you're short on postage money, Goodwill accepts all clean clothing, according to its policies. Other secondhand stores in your area may also accept used underwear as well. Just remember that no one's interested in unsightly knickers, so use discretion when donating.

Last but not least, if you have a pile of pitifully worn out pantaloons that no one could reclaim, check around for local textile recycling bins as many of them accept all types of clothing. Or, you can always go the DIY route and transform the discards into excellent house rags, batting for quilts or, according to one suggestion I ran across, sturdy ties for tomato plants.

More recycling knowhow on HowStuffWorks:

How Recycling Works

How can you take a green vacation?

5 Uses for Empty Cereal Boxes

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