What happens once a uniform is worn out or is no longer needed? There are more options than just tossing it out to the curb on garbage day. Ideas on what to do with an old uniform range from returning, donating or recycling the uniform to a few creative ways to put that uniform to work by reusing it.

Return

Some employers may request that employees return old uniforms to the company. Employers then handle disposal to ensure the necessary steps are taken to protect the company that the uniform represents. Many uniforms have logos or portray a brand, and proper disposal is necessary because there is a risk of the uniform being picked up from the garbage or a thrift store and worn to impersonate the company’s staff, which can lead to security risks, fraud and even theft.

For this reason, it is best to check with the employer before disposing of a uniform. Employers may have access to unpicking embroidered logos or even over-branding, which is a process that applies a new logo over the existing logo. Any of these methods can be used on a uniform to reuse it.

Donate

Donating old clothing that no longer fits or is ready for a new home isn’t a new concept, whether it is donated as a hand-me-down or left at the nearest charitable clothing drop for resale, but did you know that uniforms can also be donated?

Donating an old uniform that is unbranded and in good condition is the perfect way to breathe new life into a uniform that still has some wear left. It is also a great way to provide for those in need. An old uniform that is useless to you may be just what another individual needs. Uniforms can be expensive. For those who may not be able to afford a new one, shopping for uniform pieces at a thrift store is a great benefit.

Recycle

An old, tattered uniform that can’t be donated or reused for its original purpose can easily be recycled. Textile banks and other recycling centers around the nation collect clothing articles to encourage recycling and keep clothing waste out of landfills. The amount of clothing that is dumped in landfills yearly is astounding. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates it as roughly 16 million tons yearly.

Goodwill stores partner with recycling centers and pass along clothing that cannot be resold in their stores. Reach out to your local Goodwill store to see if it participates in a recycling program for clothing that is not in good condition and cannot be resold. Breaking down the uniform into small sections provide scraps that can be recycled into something new, such as cleaning rags.

For companies that have a high turnover rate, a uniform recycling bank can be started at the business. This way, a hired recycling company will pick up old uniforms regularly.

Another option to recycle old uniforms would be to shred it and then dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way. Ever notice the different specs of color, like dark blue, on a moving blanket or carpet padding?  That’s because these items can be made from recycled textiles. There are many companies that process textiles by shredding and then recycling the scraps into home insulation, acoustic dampening, carpet padding, furniture lining, and even moving blankets.

Repurpose

If adding to the yearly amount of textiles in landfills does not seem right, and recycling or donating will not work for the uniform, simply repurposing the uniform is another option. There are many creative ideas and uses for an old uniform:

  • Make a quilt. Denim, heavyweight canvas or other textiles can make quite a cozy quilt. Because the materials have been broken in and worn, the fabric will have a softer texture but with enough durability to last a lifetime.
  • Break down the material into strips. Use these strips to stuff a dog bed, pillow or anything that needs some extra stuffing that may have worn down over time.
  • Wear for painting or projects around the house. Uniforms are made as durable workwear, so although the uniform may not be worn anymore for its intended purpose at work, it can still be worn at home for projects. Repurposing a uniform this way means regular clothing is spared and the uniform’s purpose extended.
  • Cut down the material for cleaning rags. Uniforms are made from high-quality materials, so instead of tossing that out, cut down the uniform and use the scraps for rags.
  • Start a DIY project from Pinterest or Google. There are countless ideas shared on how to DIY uniforms into all sorts of fun sewing projects, useful items and craft projects.

Alsco Uniform Services

Having a uniform rental service, like Alsco, that is contracted to provide, maintain and launder uniforms is by far the easiest way to keep employees looking their best. In the event a uniform does need to be thrown out or replaced, a uniform rental service will handle all of that for you.

The convenience of having a uniform rental service program means neither the employee nor the employer has to take on the responsibility of ordering the replacement of an old uniform, repairing uniforms that have been damaged or going to the effort of finding a textile recycling center when it is time to dispose of an old uniform. It also means employees are always looking their best in professionally laundered and maintained uniforms.

Contact Alsco today to find out more about the uniform service programs we offer.

Sources

https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

https://www.epa.gov/report-environment/wastes. United States Environmental Protection Agency.

https://earth911.com/recycling-guide/how-to-recycle-clothing-accessories/. Earth 911.

https://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/3-no-sew-upcycled-t-shirt-projects. HGTV.