About 200 frayed and tattered socks that once cushioned the feet of Methow Valley residents will be repurposed as comfy filling for dog beds through a new recycling campaign.
For 12 days, starting on Earth Day, Goat’s Beard Mountain Supplies and Winthrop Mountain Sports collected socks for the campaign, which was launched by sock and active-wear manufacturer Smartwool. People dropped off socks of all colors, sizes, materials and brands, said Claire LeDuc, who manages Goat’s Beard with her husband, Joel Forrest. Goat’s Beard sent socks collected by both stores back to Smartwool last week.
Everyone has old socks with holes or tears that they don’t want to throw away, but they don’t want to wear them, either, so it poses a conundrum, LeDuc said. She sent out emails letting people know they could recycle their socks.
More than 250 retailers across the country participated in the sock recycling drive. Smartwool is still counting the number of socks collected, said Maggie Meisinger, Smartwool’s manager of strategic communications. Smartwool has teamed up with Material Return, a company based in North Carolina that transforms textile waste into yarn.
A recent survey conducted by Smartwool found that while most people “recycle” used clothing, selling it through consignment or donating it to second-hand stores, socks are rarely part of the picture. Overall, textiles contribute more than 11 million tons of waste to landfills every year, they said.
LeDuc observes her own annual Earth Day ritual to reduce waste. Ninety-nine percent of the apparel Goat’s Beard sells comes individually packed in its own plastic bag, LeDuc said. So, every Earth Day, she emails company representatives to encourage them to change their packaging. Only one company, prAna, which makes yoga and active wear, consistently dispenses with plastic packaging. “It’s really nice to open a box — everything is wrapped in twine,” LeDuc said.
Although the sock drop-off has ended for this year, people who buy directly from Smartwool’s website can request a bag to send in socks — from any manufacturer — for recycling. The company plans to collect socks at retail outlets again next Earth Day, Meisinger said.