Published: August 10, 2017

Columbia Sportswear expands clothing recycling program

Recycling Today Staff

Columbia Sportswear, Portland, Oregon, has announced the roll out of its ReThreads clothing recycling program in more than 100 Columbia stores across the United States to help people recycle used clothing and footwear.

From Aug. 9 to Sept. 10, 2017, Columbia says it will make a $1 contribution to a nonprofit organization for every pound of clothing that is recycled and kept out of landfills. Participants in the program will be given a token once they drop off their gently used items and can use that token to place their vote for one of the participating nonprofits, including American Hiking SocietyNational Park Foundation and Children and Nature Network.

“The issue of clothing ending up in landfills is a significant problem, and we want to do our part to help conserve our material resources and reduce our collective carbon footprint,” says Columbia Senior Global Corporate Relations Manager Scott Welch. “We are thrilled to build on last year’s successful ReThreads pilot program and roll it out to all of our stores and their communities around the country.”

Americans discarded more than 32 billion pounds of clothing, shoes and other textiles in 2014, accounting for more than 6 percent of the municipal waste stream (MSW), according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With the average American throwing away 81 pounds of textiles per year, the Columbia ReThreads program says it aims to reduce this amount and impact by asking people to drop off garments, outerwear and footwear (in clean, dry condition) at each of the company’s store locations. Programs like ReThreads, says Columbia, help keep these items out of the landfill and contribute to the more than  5 billion pounds of consumer textile waste being reused or recycled today, according to EPA.

“Protecting the environment by recycling materials that hikers use is essential for the next generation to explore the places we all love to hike,” says American Hiking Society Executive Director Kate Van Waes. “Columbia Sportswear and American Hiking Society have partnered for over 10 years, and we are excited to collaborate on the Rethreads program.”

After garments and footwear are dropped in the ReThreads bins in each Columbia store, they are sent to a processing facility through I:CO, a textile recycling solutions company based in Germany with a U.S. location in Newton, Massachusetts. Items that can be worn again are sold as second-hand goods through I:CO’s network. Unwearable items are reused for products like cleaning cloths or recycled into fibers for products such as insulation and new fabrics.

For a full listing of store locations visit