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What Happens to Your Old Undies

When we started Knickey, we were adamant about weaving sustainability into every facet of the business. Not only did that include making the most sustainable garments on the market, but taking responsibility for them after they get to you. We prioritized considering the entire lifecycle of our products, beyond the point of sale - because as producers, we want to take responsibility for what we put out into the world. When considering products beyond customer use, Undies hold a unique place in the waste stream. Mainly, because they are essentially single-user garments: they cannot be donated, they cannot be resold, and [according to hygienists] they should not be worn for more than a year. This leads to a great amount of textile waste derived from the undergarment industry worldwide - in fact, more broadly - clothes and other textiles made up almost 8% of all trash that was sent to landfills according to a 2021 report.1


That’s why we created the world’s first Recycling Program for intimates, enabling anyone to send us their worn-out undies, seen-better days socks, ripped tights and stretched-out bras from any brand safe disposal and secondary use. In the beginning, we weren’t sure how many people would take advantage of the program, but it became clear very quickly that we had filled a much needed service, and we are proud to say that we have recycled over half-a-million items of clothing since our launch!

So what happens to the products you recycle?


First, the items are unpackaged and sorted into categories by product type and material makeup. Lightly used bras are captured, sterilized and donated to communities who need them. The remaining goods are graded based on composition - with a focus on distinguishing cotton-rich garments from synthetic blends. Cotton-rich garments are reserved for textile-to-textile recycling processes, and eventually made into recycled yarn for reuse in apparel manufacturing. That said, the majority of intimates on the market are made from fossil-fuel-derived synthetic fibers that cannot be recycled at this time. In order to put this massive amount of textile waste to good use, we break it down into a fiber lint substance known as shoddy - which is a substance that can be used across many applications, including furniture batting, wall insulation, composite molding and more! 


Diverting textile waste from ending up in landfills has always been a mission of ours, but there’s something in it for you, too! For every box of goods you send in to Knickey Recycles, you'll get 300 Top Drawer Reward points - enough for 15% off your next order. A win for you, and the earth! Get started with our Recycling Program today.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data#:~:text=Landfills%20received%2011.3%20million%20tons,percent%20of%20all%20MSW%20landfilled.


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