We all want to be good for our planet and society, and recycling correctly is undoubtedly part of it… but can you recycle yarn?
Recycling is a better way to dispose of waste than tossing it in landfills. To help educate people and make recycling more accessible, some cities have partnered with Waste Management, the world’s most prominent collector and recycler of post-consumer material.
Yarn can’t be recycled in the traditional sense. Instead, it can be reused and repurposed into new clothing and projects. By cleaning the old thread and then straightening and smoothing it, you can reuse it as if it’s fresh!
If you want to help spread the word, you can join the national Recycle Often, Recycle Right campaign to sort and recycle right.
You can help spread the word to your family and friends by downloading and printing our coloring and activity pages which you can distribute to day-care centers, schools, parks, libraries, or other locations that inspire recycling.
How Do You Recycle Yarn?
Commonly made of acrylic, nylon, or wool – it’s well known that yarn is a popular material that can be recycled.
There are many questions about what you can and cannot recycle. Some cities make recycling yarn a challenge. It is not as easy to recycle as plastic or glass. However, there are options available to you!
Both plastic and paper recycling plants can recycle most forms of yarn. The only exception? Some kinds of acrylic or elastic yarn. Acrylic is the “plastic” that makes up a lot of our synthetic-knitting yarns, and many new knitting patterns today are written for acrylic yarns rather than wool due to the ease with which beginners can work with them.
Unfortunately, acrylic is not easily recycled. If you’re interested in crafting with this type of yarn, consider reusing a yarn that was already produced. Most spools and skeins of yarn are recyclable as long as they are clean and only contain natural fibers. The easiest way to recycle old yarn is by repurposing it into another project.
We hope you’ll also consider reusing your yarn by knitting or crocheting wonderful new things.
Alternatives to Recycling Yarn
Buying and wearing recycled yarn is the best way to enjoy a new sweater without creating unnecessary waste. There are many ways to recycle yarn, from collecting wool remnants during the shearing season, sorting through a mother-in-law’s stash, or combing through thrift stores.
Yarn reclamation isn’t as hard as it sounds. It only requires an eye for detail, patience, and, hopefully, some knitting skills.
Our plant-based initiatives are here to stay. They mean that we are trying our hardest to look after our planet by diverting waste into new yarn and providing recycling opportunities where possible. These have come from two places – Scraps from other projects and the textile industry.
Any loose yarn can be recycled in your community. If you have a friend or family member who knits or crochets, they may have a separate bin in their home that is used for recycling unwanted yarn.
Look for local yarn shops that accept donations, or consider placing your gift in a charity collection box. If none are options, there are several websites where you can recycle yarn and help someone else out, too!
Repurposing Old Yarn
Repurposing yarn is pretty straightforward. You can bleach white or acrylic yarn to restore its whiteness, and most fibers will bounce back after going through the washing machine. Wool yarns are often dyed and can have a pattern added -you can dye these to restore their original colors or may be able to purchase the same colorway in another yarn.
Yarn and knitting needles have a second life beyond their intended use. Each year the United States throws away over two billion pounds of old clothes (Environmental Protection Agency). With just a little effort, recycled yarn can make beautifully crafted items like sweaters, scarves, hats, and more!
Yarn can be recycled into new yarn. Most spinning mills that recycle yarn will accept used thread. You may also use a fiber-salvage company, which is likely to have less stringent standards than a mill. All recyclers of used yarn will want to see if the fibers are mechanically damaged (cut) or chemically damaged (soiled or felted) before they will process them.
Why Is Recycling Important?
This is an excellent question. Why recycle yarn? First of all, it’s just brilliant.
There is an ever-increasing demand for new fibers. The U.S. Government estimates that 95% of the cotton grown in this country goes to textile manufacturing and half of all fibers come from overseas nations; recycled yarn helps reduce our dependence on foreign fibers and simultaneously promotes growth within our borders.
We all know that recycling is essential. But for many of us, it’s often easy to forget the importance of recycling yarn. After all, it can be a bit tricky to find a recycling bin for yarn in parks, streets, or shops. But recycling yarn keeps unnecessary fibers, dyes, chemicals, and precious water out of our oceans.
By recycling yarn, we are one step closer to protecting the ocean for future generations. The materials used to create yarn, particularly synthetic ones, usually cannot be reused.
So it is essential to recycle yarn because it is a resource that is being rapidly depleted. Half of the yarn supply from factories comes from recycled yarn. Recycling saves many natural resources and allows us to keep enjoying beautiful products. After this fiber has been used once, it is an elegant, durable, and readily renewable resource.