Textile Recovery

Massachusetts has officially made it illegal to throw out clothing and other textiles, becoming the first state in America to do so. Under a new law that went into effect in November 2022, residents must recycle their used garments, as long as they are dry and not infested with insects or otherwise contaminated. Please note that textiles should never be placed in your curbside recycling cart. 

When you donate textiles (clothing, shoes, bags, household fabric, bedding, pillows, stuffed animals, etc.), they are sorted and the highest grade gets donated or sold to thrift stores in the US, then overseas. Remaining textiles or scraps are shredded and recycled for industrial uses.  They are a valuable material that can be reused or turned into new types of fabrics, yet it is estimated that 85% of textiles end up in the trash.  Here are some great options on how to properly donate and recycle your old textiles.

Beyond the Bin Recycling Directory

Click this link from MA DEP for a search engine on how to recycle certain types of materials

Click here for more resources from MA DEP

Curbside Textile Pick Up In Salem

HELPSY is offering free curbside pick ups for Salem Residents.
Click here to schedule a curbside clothing and textile pick up with HELPSY


Drop Off / Collection Bins in Salem

HELPSY is a for profit B corp with an environmental mission: to keep clothes out of the trash. They have not only helped us run our Textile Drive and Swap N Drop Events, but they also have collection bins around the City where you can drop off clothing and books

– St. Peter’s Church, 24 St. Peters Street

Bay State Textiles – They partner with schools and communities to create a process for diverting clothing donations along with shoes, and fabrics away from the solid waste stream.  Bay State has partnered with Salem Public Schools offering a collection bin at each school and a rebate of $100.00 per ton of weight collected back to the schools

– Salem High School, 77 Willson Street                                                – Horace Mann, 79 Willson Street   
– Saltonstall School, 211 Lafayette Street
– Bentley Charter School, 25 Memorial Drive
– Carlton School, 10 Skerry Street
– Bates, 53 Liberty Hill Avenue
– Witchcraft Heights, 1 Frederick Street
– Collins School, 29 Highland Avenue

On Salem State Campus:
– Viking Hall
– Peabody Hall
– 11 Harrison Road

Planet Aid bins located at 94 Bridge St, Shaws on Traders Way, North Shore Medical Center 108 Jefferson Ave, 95 Congress St, 50 Grove St, 19 Boston St, 323 Highland Ave

Reuse and Re-purpose Textiles

Before you donate your old clothes, can you find new ways to reuse them around the house? Maybe that stained T-Shirt can be used to mop the floors. Can that shirt with a hole in it be turned into a tank top?

Click here for some more ideas and inspiration.

Textile Drive and Swap N' Drop

The Recycling Committee hosts two events where you can donate clothes – The Textile Drive is the Saturday before Thanksgiving in November and the Swap N Drop is the first weekend in May, click here to learn more about these events.

Fun Facts and Infographics