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Recycling clothing and textiles

We have drop-off locations located around the City for recycling clothing and textiles. You can also recycle clothing and textiles at our hazardous waste drop-off events.

Did you know that about seven percent of solid waste is textiles? At our drop-off locations and recycling events, we take everything, including pants, coats, hats, and suits. We have a full list of what we'll take below.

Have questions? Contact:

Public Works
BOSTON, MA 02201

Common questions

Common questions

You can recycle the items listed below. We will NOT take carpets, rugs, oil rags, mattresses, or wet or mildewed items.

  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Shirts
  • Pajamas
  • T-shirts
  • Jerseys
  • Sweatshirts and pants
  • Sweaters
  • Jeans
  • Dresses
  • Coats
  • Jackets
  • Suits
  • Scarves
  • Undergarments and bras
  • Shoes (singles too!)
  • Flip Flops
  • Slippers
  • Belts
  • Ties
  • Backpacks, book bags
  • Hats
  • Socks (singles too!)
  • Purses
  • Comforters
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Pillow cases
  • Curtains and draperies
  • Table linens
  • Stuffed animals

Every item is examined by hand. The best 40-50% are resold as clothes in the US and Latin America — that's what pays for the collections and supports so many American jobs at the sorting and retail companies. Another 25% or so are cut into wiping rags for use by different industries, bars, and contractors. The least-useful 20-25% or so would be ground into insulation. This insulation would be used in carpet padding and commercial (not residential) furniture. Whole Foods has started using this grade to insulate grocery deliveries.

All types of clean, dry clothes, shoes, accessories, and household textiles. You can see a full list of items in the first question of this section. We don't accept pet beds, furniture, carpets, electronics, or hazmat materials.

We've tripled service since placing the first dropboxes in November, and we'll continue to increase service schedules as needed. We also address any issues sent to within 24 hours. 

Our dropbox partner, Helpsy, is a Certified B Corporation, legally obligated to prioritize its environmental mission and the well-being of its workforce alongside profitability. Proceeds from the sales of clothing pay for:

  • drivers and staff
  • trucks and equipment
  • payments to the City and hundreds of bin hosts
  • its 200 charity partners, and
  • its local vendors. 

Ideally there will be profits to fund future growth, but that's not the primary goal. You can learn more about Helpsy on their website.

Our goal is to continue to expand the program over time. Helpsy is also planning to hold downtown clothing drives in the near future.

There are plenty of clothes. The expensive part is getting the right clothes to people who want and need them. That is what Helpsy does. Thrift stores also help with this, and Helpsy currently buys more than 40,000 pounds each week of surplus clothes from Boston-area thrift stores. This helps thrift stores turn over their inventory and fund their missions.