How to Recycle Old Hiking Gear

pair of brown high-top shoes on rock

After the holidays it can feel great to have a new piece of hiking gear, but what to do about the old gear sitting in the closet? You don’t just want to throw it away, because that would be causing more waste to be generated, and is not sustainable. However, you don’t want that gear to be taking up space in the closet either. Below are some ideas on how to get rid of that old gear while also being responsible at the same time.

How to Donate Old Clothing for Resale

Old clothing layers, such as jackets, pants, and shirts can be donated to thrift stores that will resell the items. In the United States, these organizations include Goodwill, ARC thrift stores, and the Salvation Army. Clothing can be dropped off at collection points, and workers will provide receipts that can be used as tax write-offs. Make sure the clothing is clean, and is not too worn.

For clothing that can’t be donated because it is too worn-out or is underwear, there is another option, especially if the item is synthetic. Patagonia stores will accept used synthetic clothing and recycle the fibers to be used as new products. Simply drop off the items at the store.

How to Recyle Old Outdoor Gear

Getting rid of old and used gear is a different matter. Donation stores as mentioned above may take it, but there’s no guarantee that someone who actually needs a pair of crampons or a tent is going to go to the local thrift store. There are however some options available though for those who are willing to be a little creative.

  • Donate used camping gear to a community hiking group, such as a Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop. They could always need a backpacking stove or tent, or even outdoor clothing for some members who may not be able to afford good gear. Check with the local Scout office for troops in the area.
  • Sell the gear at a local gear swap. Gear stores sometimes have gear swap sales where they not only are selling their own gear, but also provide an opportunity for people to sell or swap their own gear to each other.
  • Recycle old batteries. Batteries found in old headlamps or other electronics can be recycled through a local recycling organization. Check for local groups that will accept them.

How to Recyle Old Outdoor Books

Sometimes old books, maps, and other publications pile up at home after trips. If you are not planning on using them again, consider donating or recycling them. Again, local Scout troops and outdoor youth programs may want guidebooks and maps for planning adventures, especially if they are not too old. If the books are not too well worn they could be donated to the local library, provided the library wants them. If all else fails, they can be recycled as paper products. However, very old books or maps may have some historical value, so inquire with the local hiking club if they would be interested in them, especially if the books or maps are related to the local area.

Getting rid of old gear doesn’t have to be a pain or cause an impact on the environment by being dumped in a landfill. Instead, used outdoor equipment can be recycled to be made into new products, or enjoyed by other outdoor enthusiasts.  

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