Durable nylon, found in everything from clothing and carpets, to bags and tents, can be recycled through certain takeback programs.
What is nylon?Nylon is a type of fabric made from petroleum products. It is commonly used to make clothing, backpacks and bags, stockings or tights, outdoor gear such as tents, rope, carpet and many other items we use every day. Since it is made of petroleum products it will not biodegrade. Nylon was first developed in the 1930s as an alternative to silk. There are lots of great qualities about the fabric. It is lightweight yet strong, and it is often touted for its quick-drying capabilities. Clothing manufacturers like it because it holds dye well. It is also less expensive to produce than silk and does not get damaged as easily. The problem with nylon is that, like many fabrics, it is difficult to recycle, especially once it has been used. Second-hand fabrics typically need to be cleaned before they can be recycled, and it is often not cost-effective for companies to do that. However, there are a few nylon recycling options out there.
How to recycle or reuse nylon bagsNylon bags are challenging to recycle unless you purchase one from a company that offers a takeback program. San Francisco-based Timbuk2 is one such company. Once your nylon messenger or camera bag is worn out, simply stick it in a box and mail it to the company at the address provided on its website. Timbuk2 will reuse or recycle as many of the materials as possible. There is no charge for the company’s recycling services (other than the cost of postage), and customers that send in products to be recycled will receive a 20% discount on a future purchase. There may also be creative ways to reuse unwanted nylon bags. If you have a backpack that is in good shape that you no longer want, consider donating it to a thrift shop or a program that helps children get school supplies. If you have a large shopping bag with a hole it in, cut it apart and use the good nylon to make a smaller storage bag.
How to recycle or reuse nylon fabricLeftover nylon fabric from a sewing project is a great material to reuse. See if your community has an organization that provides fabric and supplies to artists and schools. Materials for the Arts in New York City and The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC, are a few examples. If you have nylon clothing you want to recycle, and you purchased that clothing from popular outdoor gear manufacturer Patagonia, you can return it to the company for recycling. Get more information about Patagonia’s recycling program on its website.
How to recycle and reuse nylons or tightsNo Nonsense, which makes nylons, tights and other types of leggings, offers a recycling program for consumers. The first step is visit their pantyhose recycling page and print a prepaid mailing label. Next, place all your unwanted nylon leggings in a box and put on the shipping label. Drop it at your nearest post office or other mailing location, and your old nylons are on their way to a recycling facility. No Nonsense sends the material to a plant that recycles it into things like playground equipment, toys and vehicle insulation. There are lots of ways to reuse old nylons as well.
- Put a bar of soap in the toe of a clean nylon (make sure there is no run in that section). Tie off the open end and hang the sock by the sink. When you go to wash your hands, get them plenty wet then roll the sock between your hands. This works really well in potting sheds, barns or other places where a soap dish might not be practical.
- Use nylons to tie up tomatoes or other plants that need support as they grow.
- Fill a clean nylon with potpourri or lavender. Use it as a sachet in your drawers, car or any other area you want to smell fresh.