Thursday, December 29, 2011


December 29, 2011

I had an appalling realization last week.  Finding myself with a bit of extra time on my hands, I started some heavy-duty cleaning, including in one of my three attics (and don't you think owning three attics in the same house is a little outrageous? Perhaps even decadent?).  Anyway, one of the things I found was a rather large basket of rags and leftover clothes and sheets meant to be made into rags at some point.  That finding, in and of itself, is not worth confessing.  That I have a similarly large stash of rags in each of the other attics AND in the shed and some closets led me to a realization:

I am unable to throw away clothes.

Think about this.  I have bought or received clothes for a family of four for more than half my life.  I do give away some items.  I have donated wearable clothes to the Twin City Mission and to various garage sales for good causes.  I have passed along some things as hand me downs.  However, as I pondered it, I could not remember EVER throwing away clothes.  Somehow, the idea that Someone Somewhere cut and sewed the item, as opposed to something mass produced and spit out by a machine, gives me pause.  I can't seem to throw those things away, even when they are no longer fit for anyone to wear.  I just put used clothes, sheets, towels, socks, even underwear, in a box or basket "to make rags out of them." I have now reached the point that I have so many rags I could clean up all the sites on the Superfund list and still not deplete my stock.

I think I need a chiffonier!  Or in English, a rag picker.

Did you know that the average American throws away 67.9 pounds of clothing and rags each year? With some 20 million people in the state of Texas, that’s 1.4 billion pounds of clothing thrown away each year in Texas alone.

Surely, there must be a way to recycle and/or re-use the fabric, buttons, zippers.  Locals, do you know anyplace that recycles clothes and other fabric items?  I'm talking about items no longer wearable--stained, hopelessly out of fashion, torn, faded.

Barring that (and this is a serious request), would anyone be willing to teach me how to make rag rugs?  And if I learn, are any of you willing to receive a rag rug gift from me?

An addendum to this confession:

The day I discovered my rag problem, I was confessing it to my friends, Jim and Margie.  They have just bought a new place near Dripping Springs to replace their Bastrop home lost to the wildfires last fall.  When I bemoaned my overabundant bounty of rags, Margie pulled the most wistful look, and said, "Jim and I were just shopping for rags to use to rub oil into our butcher block island in our new kitchen.  They are really hard to find at the store, and of course, I don't have any now.  I don't really even have spare clothes to make into rags."

I never imagined giving a bag of hole-y socks, ripped knit shirts, too-old-to-wear-for-yard-work pants, and a bottom sheet with bad elastic as a Christmas gift.  And what's more, I never thought the receiver would be delighted.


  1. Check on pinterest for rag rug ideas... They have some neat ideas! Also, Keep all the button's in a jar & you can sell it usually to those of us that collect/LOVE/obsess over buttons of all shapes and sizes.

  2. I have to confess that when we first got married I would cut off the buttons and rip off the zippers of old discarded clothes thinking that eventually I would have some use for those items. I saved them for many years until I realized that, at best, I probably only used 10 buttons out of the many jars I was filling. I never seemed to have the right matching button to replace a lost one. I finally did sell some in a garage sale and chunked the rest during one of my "let's get organized" moods. I have one box in my hall bathroom under the sink that I keep "select rags". When that box becomes full I toss the rest.

  3. Vickie,

    Do you have Kiducation in your area? We have the "Kiducation" program here in New England. These are white dropboxes that are placed in the parking lots of area businesses, libraries and churches, where people can donate used clothing, shoes, blankets, towels, etc. Kiducation recycles the materials from all of this, and the money given from the recycling program goes directly to the school system of the town. For example, I live in Litchfield and all of the money that is given for the clothes in the Litchfield boxes, goes back to the Litchfield school system. Our Kiducation boxes are utilized frequently -- as the kids outgrow or destroy clothing that isn't decent enough to pass on to others, it goes to the Kiducation box, where it's 1. out of my house and 2. going to provide some children with the things they need in their classrooms.

    I highly recommend seeing if you have a program like this in your area -- it's a great way to feel not so guilty about dumping those old clothes!

    Happy New Year!

  4. Weirdly enough, I love rags! I use them for my rabbits because I have wire cages and the rabbits need something to stand on or cuddle up with without covering the whole floor of the cage. :) There a a million uses one could find for old rags....