This Company Recycles Old Socks

Did you know that socks are one of the most discarded pieces of apparel? An average person in the U.K. loses 15 socks a year. Multiply this by the population of 68 million, and roughly one billion socks are directed towards landfills from just one country.

Once they are in the landfill, wool socks take 1-5 years to decompose. If they are made of materials derived from plastic like nylon or polyester, it will take decades.

If you're wondering what to do with old socks and you’re up for a DIY, check out 3 Ways to Mend a Hole in a Sock. But we don't always have the time to do that. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could recycle our old socks?

This company collects and recycles your old socks

Situated in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, Smartwool creates Merino wool-based socks and apparel. In an effort to promote circularity in fashion, it started recycling socks through the Second Cut Project in April 2021. The project gives old socks a second chance beyond landfills. It has teamed up with Material Return, an organization specializing in textile recycling to deconstruct hard-to-recycle socks and turn them into new goods.

Apart from reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, recycling socks reduces the environmental impact of collecting virgin raw materials, energy, and water used to manufacture new socks.

Material Return transforms old socks into raw materials. At the end of the process, other manufacturers collect the recycled material and use it to make a wide range of products.

How can I recycle my socks with Smartwool?

To return your old socks, you can order a free take-back bag. Once you receive the bag, you can fill it up with old socks. Make sure to clean them and don’t fold, roll, or attach matching socks.

Smartwool is not limited to its own socks. It accepts socks of any material, brand, color, or condition. Even if you don’t have a complete pair, you can send individual socks.

Just stick the prepaid label on top of your package filled with old socks and drop it off at any FedEx facility. You can also use your own recyclable bag and send it directly to Material Return.

As of June 2023, Smartwool has repurposed 246,000 socks, preventing over 20,000 pounds of material waste from entering landfills. Its goal is to reach 400,000 socks by the end of this year.


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