Guide for Reuse, Repair, Recycling, and Safe Disposal
for Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and the City of Palo Alto

What do I do with:



Textiles: Clothing Collection Programs

Not all take back programs are created equally! More brands are offering garment collection opportunities, either in-store or mail-back. Each program is designed, marketed, and operated differently. Read more to learn about what to look for in a brands takeback program to distinguish a good opportunity from greenwashing.

What is Greenwashing?

Greenwashing is when a company claims to make environmentally conscious efforts for marketing purposes but actually isn't making any notable actions. Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1201 (AB 1201, Ting) and Senate Bill 343 (SB 343, Allen) into law on October, 2021, enacting new restrictions on environmental marketing claims made to California consumers for plastic packaging and compostable products, but no regulations prevent clothing brands from making recyclability claims for their products. Many textile collectors in this space call themselves recyclers, as they receive and sort textiles for end-markets. Very few markets exist for unusable, stained, textiles with blended fiber types.

Textile Recycling

Textile recycling is complicated as many fabrics have several blended fiber types and other design additives, such as closures and finishing chemicals, thereby deteriorating the recyclability of these products. Most recyclers do not accept materials directly from the public and work with collectors and sorters to ensure they are only getting the materials that work with their technology. Alameda County, Contra Costa County, and Palo Alto do not collect textiles in the recycling bin. The best option for textiles and clothing is to take them to an established collection site, such as the ones described below.

Take back options for usable clothes

  • Host or participate in a clothing swap

  • Thrift stores, charities, consignment shops, friends, and community groups

  • Mailback options, such as ThredUp, or Smartwool

  • Support brands with take-back programs that repair and resell what they collect, such as Carhartt, Patagonia, Northface, Toad & Co, Eileen FIsher, or any brand with a partnership with Renewal Workshop

  • DO NOT: dump bags of garments at collection sites after hours, dump bags of garments at encampments, send usable clothes to companies claiming to recycle without sorting out the usable garments for resale and repair.

Take back options for UNUSABLE clothes

  • Upcycle with a local artist or alteration company, or repurpose, such as a rag

  • Call local thrifts to see if they sort for unusable garments for recycling, such as Salvation Army and Goodwill

  • Find a mailback option that sorts unusable garments for recycling

  • Contact your local and state elected officials to ask for support on active legislation to engage the industry to find textile recycling solutions.


Produced in partnership with CPSC.

Questions? Comments?   We're here to help!      Get in touch!

Additional Tools

  • Item Search
  • Vendor Search
  • Information for Vendors

Grab the mobile apps for answers on the go:

Download on the App Store
Get it on Google Play
Brought to you by A public agency reducing waste in Alameda County since 1976.