The basics of recycling include diverting waste before that next step.
Reduce > Reuse > Reclaim > Recycle
To divert waste and reuse, find others who want clothes and other things when you are done. Maybe you’ll find someone in your neighborhood who would want to trade with you. Find local waste and recycling information by entering your zip code at Earth 911.
Recycling for Children
Do you want to teach your children the basics of recycling? Many major environmental organizations have materials for children’s environmental education.
- America Recycles Day (November 15th) includes activities for children.
- Environmental Protection Agency, K-12 Resources, includes Recycle City.
- Earth 911 lists kid’s activities by age level.
- Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy, Energy Kids’ Page
- The Earth Day Network has more general environmental education materials that can be integrated into K-12 education.
- My own favorite, Real Diaper Association, provides an advocacy plan for a children group presentation on “Why Choose Cloth Diapers,” focuses on how the 3Rs (renew, reuse, recycle) relate to the cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers discussion.
Natural Fibers: Textile Recycling
Natural fiber textile recycling is not very common with a likely rate of less than 1%. Council for Textile Recycling gives resources an overview of textile recycling. You may be more familiar with natural fibers recycled into paper. Treecycle explains the goal of post-consumer recycled paper.
Why Choose Reclaimed Fibers for Diapers?
Recycled fibers may be considered a good environmental choice. To use old clothes, especially those that aren’t good anymore for wear because of holes or stains, diverts those fibers from the waste stream and slows production and consumption of new goods. You can easily cut around problems. Cuttings can easily be used as stuffing for toys or as a base for paper.
Your local thrift store will usually have a wide choice of colors and, if you search carefully, you may find many clothes, sheets, or towels that are 100% cotton or sweaters that are 100% wool. There is little you can know about where these fibers came from, what chemical processes they were subjected to, or the conditions in which workers made them, but you can renew their future life as useful clothing.
Refuz cloth diapers: Reused & Reclaimed
Fuzbaby’s Refuz diapers are now a thing of the past, just a mention in Diaper Underground history. But let me tell you a story.
When clothing was worn and holey but not quite ready to be rags, we would divert it into a new life as our shockingly bright and beautiful refuz diapers—no longer available, but we still think of Refuz fondly. See more Refuz Recycled Cotton Diapers in our Diaper Art Gallery.
These diapers were the same great pattern as our hemp and organic cotton diapers, but we used as many colors as possible for the body, the doubler, and the binding on each. Even the snaps were colorful. All outer fabric came from reused T-shirts. All of the inner fabrics were organic cotton fleece for absorbency and flexibility.
You can still take this lesson to heart and make your own diapers, blankets, clothing, or other baby items out of recycled materials. It is a great way to reuse what isn’t quite wearable any more.