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Don’t throw out unwearable clothing

WORDTHRIFTWe all know to donate our good clothing to thrift shops, but what about the stuff that can’t possibly be sold — the stuff that’s stained or ripped? If you’re like me, you guiltily put it in the trash. So my inner environmentalist was happy to learn that Fresno has a recycling program for these types of clothes. I was doing an interview at Neighborhood Thrift at 353 Olive Ave., about their expansion into a new warehouse and it turns out the growth is because of its thriving clothing recycling program. Clothes that can’t be sold are packaged into 1,000-pound bales (you can see a video of the cool machine that does this here) by workers in a job-training program. Pillows, blankets, even puffy comforters are included too. They’re then sold to companies that turn them into carpet padding, insulation for car doors, oil filter and rags used by mechanics.

Neighborhood Recycling picks up unwanted clothing from 42 Valley thrift shops. You may want to call your favorite thrift shop to see if they do this type of recycling.

Update: The folks over at Goodwill have a similar program. Clothing there is recycled, but also sold to other thrift operations and overseas for people to wear. So any Goodwill donation spot can take your unwearable clothing too.

Now is the time to go thrift shopping

Photo: John Walker

A funny thing happened when I went to Goodwill last weekend. There was a lot of good stuff, new stuff — more so than normal. I got this brand new fuschia skirt with a lace overlay at the North Blackstone Avenue Goodwill for about three bucks. Normally it costs $19.99.

Wondering what was going on, I called my friendly neighborhood Goodwill PR rep, who confirmed my suspicions. This is great time to go thrift shopping, says Goodwill’s Sally Wooden. Families are clearing out their closets and garages to make way for all the new stuff they got for Christmas. And others made end-of-year donations to get tax deductions.

That means an influx of high-quality stuff in thrift shops — Goodwill and others — for you, the shopper. Because some of the donations take a while to trickle in from drop-off points and warehouses, the infusion of new stuff lasts through February.

Kids’ stuff — whether bikes or clothes — goes quickly, Wooden says, so act fast if that’s what you’re looking for.

Some things are brand new. Goodwill has an arrangement with some retailers, including Target, to take its overstock goods. So all those clothes people are returning to Target because they don’t fit? Some of it ends up at Goodwill, perhaps because the stores want to make room for spring fashions.

You’ve still got to be willing to hunt — and there’s still going to be plenty of lesser quality goods — but it’s a good time to shop if you like thrift shopping.