You don't have to throw away your old shirts, sheets and shoes anymore

Old shirts, towels, blankets and even shoes don’t have to be piled up in a closet or corner of the basement anymore — or worse, tossed in the garbage, destined for a landfill.

Return-It recycling is expanding its capacity to recycle old or unwanted clothing, household textiles and shoes to 32 depots across British Columbia, including three in Coquitlam.

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Return-It’s president and CEO, Allen Langdon, said a pilot program to collect those items that was launched last February proved a hit, as 13 depots collected about 26 metric tonnes of clothing and textiles in just seven months. He said recycling old clothing makes sense as, otherwise, about 40,000 tonnes of the stuff would go into landfills every year.

“Everyone is trying to figure out different strategies,” Langdon said of the ongoing challenge of dealing with textile waste.

“Anytime you’ve got more options, it makes people think about recycling more,” he said. “We have to think through how we can deal with this.”

He said making recycling of textiles available at Return-It depots makes it convenient, increasing the likelihood that old shirts, sheets and shoes don’t end up in landfills.

The textiles collected at the depots participating in the program are then picked up by a broker, Bank & Vogue, that sorts through them to identify items good enough for resale at thrift shops and turns the rest into rags to be used at garages and factories for cleanup.

Langdon said a side benefit of the program may also be fewer bags of discarded clothes left outside donation bins operated by charitable groups.

For a full list of Return-It locations now accepting old textiles and shoes, go to www.return-it.ca/collections/textiles.

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