Ways to Properly Dispose of Your Unwanted Clothes in St. Louis

Have you wondered what to do with unwanted clothes?

Do they go in the trash or is there another option?

Do our clothes ever disappear?

In this blog, you will learn about what happens to our unwanted clothes and how you can help our environment by properly disposing of them.

This guest blog post is by Jasmine Scott, a graduate student studying data science at St. Louis University.

Where do my textiles go when I throw them in the trash?

If you throw textiles (e.g., clothes, bedding and towels) away in the trash, they end up in a municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill with other household waste. A landfill is a specific site dedicated to the disposal of waste by using a method that involves burying waste. Landfills are typically built away from urban areas in geographical locations distant from faults, wetlands, flood plains or other restricted areas. There are 2,611 landfills in the United States.

What happens to my textiles once they reach a landfill?

Under conditions of a landfill, textiles experience challenges with breaking down due to limited sunlight and oxygen exposure. Thus, the textiles undergo a process called anaerobic digestion. During anaerobic digestion, fibers release a chemical called methane. Although it is a significant energy source often used in combustion engines, methane is a potent greenhouse gas. If it is not captured, methane becomes a huge contributor to global warming. Textiles in the landfill can start generating methane within one year of anaerobic digestion.

Unfortunately, the negative effects of improper textile disposal do not stop there. As textiles continue to slowly breakdown, dyes and other chemicals from the fabric leak into the soil and contaminate groundwater that eventually reach our rivers, lakes and oceans.

What is the overall impact of throwing my textiles in the trash?

The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) states that an average American throws away 81 pounds of clothes each year. To put that in perspective, with a national population of nearly 330 million, that’s approximately 26.7 billion pounds of textiles sent to the landfill EVERY year!

What are my textile disposal options here in St. Louis?

Before you throw away your textiles, consider these options:

  1. Donate your textiles to an organization for resale or reuse.
  2. Recycle your textiles so fibers can be repurposed for something new.

In the St. Louis area, you can drop off your donations or textiles to be recycled at the organizations listed below. Please visit their websites for more details on additional locations, as well as the type of material and quality they will accept.

1. St. Vincent De Paul

Address: 4928 Christy Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63116

2. The Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center

Address: 4121 Forest Park Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108 

3. Remains Inc. Textile Recycling

Address: 3340 Morganford Rd, St. Louis, MO 63116

4. Goodwill

Address: 4200 Forest Park Ave, St. Louis, MO 63108

5. ReFresh STL

Address: 1710 S Brentwood Blvd, Brentwood, MO 63144

6. Savers

Address: 9618 Watson Rd, St. Louis, MO 63126 

Next time you think about tossing your unwanted textiles in the trash, take time to explore available disposal options in your community. You can contact these organizations listed above to locate more drop-off sites near you. If we all take small steps to do better at disposing our textile waste, we will have a big impact on our environment!

Check out Saint Louis City Recycles database to search for locations to recycle or donate textiles and many more items.


  • Nysar3.org. (2017). Re-Clothe NY. [online] Available at: https://www.nysar3.org/page/re-clothe-ny-78.html.
  • Rossingol, K. (2014). A Peek Inside a Landfill – Planet Aid, Inc. [online] Planetaid.org. Available at: https://www.planetaid.org/blog/the-gas-from-your-clothes.
  • Smartasn.org. (2012). Textile Recycling Fact Sheet. [online] Available at: https://www.smartasn.org/SMARTASN/assets/File/resources/Textile_Recycling_Fact_Sheet.pdf.
  • US EPA. (2018). Basic Information about Landfill Gas | US EPA. [online] Available at: https://www.epa.gov/lmop/basic-information-about-landfill-gas.
  • US EPA. (2018). Textiles: Material-Specific Data | US EPA. [online] Available at: https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data.
  • Waller, R. (1982). Contamination of Groundwater. [online] Usgs.gov. Available at: https://www.usgs.gov/special-topic/water-science-school/science/contamination-groundwater?qt-science_center_objects=0#qt-science_center_objects.
  • BIODEGRADE ORGANIC TEXTILE. Retrieved 6 December 2019, from https://www.close-the-loop.be/en/phase/3/end-of-life#tab-26
  • Project and Landfill Data by State | US EPA. (2019). Retrieved 6 December 2019, from https://www.epa.gov/lmop/project-and-landfill-data-state
  • Methane Capture and Use | A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change | US EPA. Retrieved 6 December 2019, from https://archive.epa.gov/climatechange/kids/solutions/technologies/methane.html
  • Municipal Solid Waste Landfills | US EPA. Retrieved 6 December 2019, from https://www.epa.gov/landfills/municipal-solid-waste-landfills

Keywords: textile recycling, sustainable fashion practices, anaerobic digestion, landfills, methane, greenhouse gas emissions


  • Kelly Oplt says:

    I’m looking for a place to recycle my textiles that are not in good enough shape to be sold by the different charity stores. (Think ripped socks and underwear). Can you advise of somewhere in the St. Louis area to drop off those type of items?

    • Jasmine Scott says:

      Hi Kelly,

      Thank you so much for commenting. Remains Inc, in Saint Louis, Mo accepts scrap textiles such as blankets, towels, and ripped jeans and tops; however, they will not accept ripped socks and underwear. This is due to the increased costs to dispose of such goods. Unfortunately, they recommended that you toss those in the trash. As much as this breaks my heart, this was the only organization that I knew for sure takes such ripped,scrapped goods. So sorry for this news. If I find another organization willing to them, I will send you a message.


    • Laura R says:

      Apparently, Goodwill DOES accept unsellable textiles (things with stains, rips, etc). I called them up – they said although they go through your stuff, it’s helpful if you simply mark the bag with “recycle.” They will then pass it along to another location that can use old textiles and they won’t end up in a landfill. I spoke to a manager at my local Goodwill, so I recommend calling yours up if you have any more questions.

  • Margaret Eisenberger says:

    Can anyone recycle wool crewel yarn?

    • Samantha Villaire says:

      Hello, great question! If your item cannot be donated or reused, please contact the company you plan to upcycle it at to ensure they recycle your item. Some of this yarn, if usable, can be donated! If it’s not able to be donated, please place the unwanted yarn in the trash. Thanks for recycling responsibly!

  • Tess McCormick says:

    My sister was a hoarder. I now have an entire house FULL of clothes. I’m certain most of them can be reused instead of recycled however, they have been closed up in the house since 2008 and they are musty/moldy smelling. I certainly do not have enough time nor energy to wash all of these items to donate them. Do you have any suggestions? Or something that will accept textiles for recycling? I’m talking an entire truck load of clothes!

    • Samantha Villaire says:

      Great question! You can take textiles (clothing, bedding, towels etc.) to be recycled at Remains Inc. You can visit their website here to view their address and hours of operation. Looks like they accept more than just clothing, too, by looking at the “accepted items” list. Thanks for recycling responsibly and keeping these materials out of the landfill!

  • Cheryl C Hammond says:

    What does Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and the other spots for used clothes do with the textiles that aren’t in good enough condition to be sold?

    • Diana says:

      I’d also like to know the answer to this question. Remains Inc seems to be the only one actively mentioning they recycle textiles.

      • Samantha Villaire says:

        A resident posted that some Goodwill’s will take them if you mark them “Recycle” but we would recommend calling beforehand to verify as this is new info. Hopefully they will accept them! There are also dropoff boxes for clothing and textiles called USAgain. You can find a dropoff box here: https://usagain.com/find-treemachine

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