Feather pillows are a classic for a reason—the fluffy material provides the perfect weight and heft for you to rest your head on when you sleep. However, even the best feather pillows need replacing after a while. With time, they get lumpy or uncomfortable.
Not only is it better for your comfort to replace old pillows, but it’s also better for your health because sleeping on them could cause neck and back pain and expose you to tons of bacteria.
When your feather pillows have fulfilled their duties, you can easily recycle them to save the planet. Feathers are a natural material, so they are compostable. You can take them to a textile recycling center or recycle the pillows on your own.
Here is your guide to everything you need to know about recycling feather pillows.
Are Feather Pillows Recyclable?
Yes, feather pillows are recyclable. In fact, it’s much easier to recycle them than pillows of other materials such as polyester or foam.
The reason is that feather pillows are almost completely filled with natural materials. Natural materials such as feathers are much easier to recycle than artificial materials such as polyester because feathers are actually biodegradable. They will break down into the earth without a complicated process.
The other materials that make up a feather pillow, such as the fabric case, are also recyclable. That means that your whole feather pillow is entirely biodegradable, reusable, or recyclable. If you’re concerned about sustainability when buying bedding, feather pillows are some of your best options.
Companies are also looking into more innovative ways to recycle feather bedding. For example, some engineering firms are starting to use old feather bedding material, mostly duvets but also some pillow stuffing, to make insulation for buildings. This is a creative way that your pillow can keep someone else warm.
How Can You Recycle Feather Pillows?
If it’s time to get rid of your feather pillows, then you have a few options for recycling them. One is to look up your nearest textile recycling center and take your pillows there. Most fabric recycling drop boxes or bins that you see around town don’t accept pillows, so you do have to take them physically to the recycling center.
That’s because processing textiles is more complicated than processing other recyclable materials, such as cardboard or cans, so it has to go to a specialized facility.
If you cannot get to the recycling center, you can ask if they do pick-ups or find a service that handles hard-to-recycle items for you. There are some companies that send you a box for items you don’t know how to recycle, let you pack it, then pick it up and do the sorting for you.
While these services are sometimes pricey, they are great if you don’t have time to go to the recycling center or have many things lying around that you don’t know what to do with.
Alternatively, you can recycle feather pillows yourself without too much trouble. All you have to do is separate the stuffing from the pillow shell. If you have a compost bin or compost pile in your yard, put the feathers in there.
Even after being in your pillow for years, once they are exposed to other compost, the feathers will begin breaking down and create fertilizer. If you have a garden, you can use the feathers directly as fertilizer.
Then, recycle the fabric shell like you would any other fabric. Figure out where the textile recycling bins are in your neighborhood, wherever you would drop off old sheets, towels, and rags, and throw away your pillow shells.
Feather pillows are actually very easy to recycle, even if you don’t have easy access to a textile recycling center.
Can You Donate Feather Pillows?
Besides recycling feather pillows, there are a few other ways you can get rid of old pillows while preventing waste. Many people want to know if they can donate their old feather pillows. After all, if you’re not using it, someone else might need it, right? However, most donation centers and charity shops don’t accept donated pillows.
The answer is the same reason why it’s important you replace your pillows regularly. No matter how often you wash your hair, your skin oils seep into the pillow as you sleep. This debris collects and is nearly impossible to get out. Also, some larvae could hold on to your pillows if you had a pest infestation such as lice or bedbugs. For these reasons, many charities don’t accept used pillows to protect the people that use their services.
However, some homeless shelters accept used pillows as they are low on resources otherwise. Call ahead to make sure they accept donated pillows, and always wash your feather pillows before giving them to anyone else.
Another avenue for donating your old pillows is pet shelters. Shelters repurpose pillows to make pet beds, and they’re usually not picky about the material or condition of your pillows, as they need all the help they can get.
Reusing Your Pillows
If you’re not ready to let go of your old feather pillows just yet, you have a few options for reusing the pillows or their material around the home.
Make a Pet Bed
As mentioned above, old pillows make great pet beds for shelter pets, but they can also make a bed for your own pet. Give Fido or Fluffy a new place to rest, one that has the extra bonus of smelling just like you by repurposing your old pillows. You don’t even have to be very crafty to complete this project, as there are many simple tutorials online just like this one.
Use the Stuffing to Make Stuffed Animals and Other Projects
The greatest thing about feather pillows is the feather stuffing material. Not only is it biodegradable and easily recyclable, but it is also easily reusable for other projects. If you’re feeling very crafty, you can take out the stuffing and use it for other projects. Feathers are stiffer than usual stuffing used for teddy bears, but they make great stuffing for decorative stuffed animals, cloth sculptures, and even pet toys.
If you don’t feel like making a complicated project, you can use the remnants of feather pillows to stuff door logs.
If you composted the feathers and are left with just the pillow shell, you can easily reuse it around the house. Just cut up the fabric into smaller pieces and use them for rags as you dust around the home. Pillow shells make great cleaning rags because of their material, and you save money and waste by not buying new rags at the store every time you need to clean something.
If it’s time for your feather pillows to go, it’s better to recycle them than to just throw them in the trash. Feather pillows are made from all biodegradable materials, so you can easily recycle them. Just take them to your nearest textile recycling center or put the feather stuffing in your compost bin. You can also reuse the pillows for DIY projects at home, like door logs to prevent drafts or pet beds.