No matter how great your pillows are, there comes a time when you have to replace them. Before you get to blissfully sleep on your new, fluffy, non-lumpy pillows, you have to figure out what to do with the old ones.
The best way to get rid of polyester pillows is to find a textile recycling service. Although polyester is not technically recyclable, the textile facilities can still salvage some of your pillow. Another option is to donate or reuse your polyester pillows.
If your polyester pillows have completed their service, here is what you need to know about recycling them.
Are Polyester Pillows Recyclable?
The answer to this question is a little complicated and has to do with the material itself.
Polyester itself is a non-recyclable material. It is a synthetic fabric made from petroleum, making it a form of plastic. As you probably know, plastic is not biodegradable, and neither is polyester.
That doesn’t mean recycling polyester isn’t possible. Specialized factories use heat or chemicals to break down the polyester and spin it into new threads or yarn so it can be used for a different object. This is an innovative way to lower fabric waste and reuse material damaging to our planet.
However, there are challenges associated with recycling polyester. It is a complicated process that only specialized factories or processing facilities can do, so making sure your polyester products actually get recycled instead of tossed away is a challenge.
Another problem is that it is unclear if recycling polyester does more harm than good to the environment. The process uses a lot of energy and has been exploited by unethical companies.
What Does That Mean for Your Pillows?
Knowing what you now know about recycling polyester, you’ll understand that finding a place to recycle your polyester pillows will be difficult. However, it is not impossible because the facilities to do this process exist.
Your polyester pillows can be recycled because they have other materials that are not polyester. Recyclers can separate fabric, cloth, metal zippers, and other components of the pillow and make sure that nothing goes to waste.
How to Recycle Your Polyester Pillows
Recycling your polyester pillows is not as simple as just tossing them in your recycling bin. However, it is worth the effort because you are protecting the environment by minimizing waste.
The first step is to carefully wash your polyester pillows. Luckily, you can easily wash your polyester pillows in the washing machine. Just put them in the machine and run it on a gentle cycle. Don’t add anything else to the machine, and let it run half-empty. Then, dry them thoroughly on a clothesline or on a low setting in your dryer.
Once your pillows are clean, you can bring them to the recycling facility. Unfortunately, you can’t recycle your polyester pillows by just putting them out in your recycling bins. Those bins go to very basic recycling facilities that don’t have the capacity to recycle fabric, including polyester, so your pillows would most likely just go to the dumpster.
Instead, you need to find a textile recycling facility near you. These facilities are specialized to sort, shred, and process different textiles, including polyester filling for pillows. If you live in the United States, the American Textile Recycling Service has a database where you can input your location and find the nearest recycling center.
If you don’t have time to get to the nearest recycling center or you have no way of getting there, you can get a recycling delivery service. Companies such as TerraCycle allow you to pay for a box that you fill with stuff you need to recycle.
Then, they pick up the box and take care of it for you. If you have a lot of items that you don’t know how to recycle, including pillows, this is a great option to take care of all of your clutter at once. However, the service is fairly pricey.
Can You Donate Polyester Pillows?
Recycling is not the only way to get rid of items you don’t need anymore without contributing to the landfill. You can also donate old items to those who might need them.
However, donating pillows can be tricky. Most places will not accept old pillows, including polyester pillows, for hygienic reasons. No matter how many times you wash pillows, they could still contain pests such as lice and bedbugs.
Although some homeless shelters and daycares will accept washed pillows, donation stores such as Salvation Army will not. It’s worth calling ahead to your local charity to ask if they accept pillows before showing up just to get turned away.
Luckily, humans are not the only ones that need pillows. Animals need pillows too, and they’re much less picky. Animal shelters and rescue facilities often need pillow donations to repurpose as pet beds or resting spots for injured animals, and they’re less worried about passing on bedbugs (The average alley cat is less likely to complain than a Goodwill shopper, after all.). If you have a favorite shelter nearby, ask if they are currently accepting donations.
Can You Reuse Polyester Pillows?
Even if your pillows are too lumpy and uncomfortable to continue resting in their place of honor at the head of your bed, that doesn’t mean you can’t get any use out of your pillow at all. With a little crafting and a lot of creativity, your old polyester pillows can be repurposed into something new.
If animals in the shelter will enjoy your polyester pillows, so will any animals you have at home. You can easily turn old pillows into comfortable pet beds. Take the stuffing out of the pillow and put it into a new pet bed. You need some sewing skills to create the cover for your pet bed, but the projects are not that complicated. Plus, your pet will be thrilled to get a comfy new bed and one that smells like you.
If you really want to flex your sewing skills, you can repurpose the stuffing and create throw pillows. Throw pillows don’t have to be ergonomic, just decorative. Let your creative vision fly when designing the pillow covers. Nobody will ever be able to tell those are just your old bed pillows!
Finally, you can even reuse your polyester pillows if you don’t feel like sewing or don’t know how. They make for good floor seating if you have kids who like to play on the floor. You can also use them as knee rests if you spend a lot of time gardening or working in your shed. Look around your home and see if there are places where you’re missing some soft seating—that is an opportunity to reuse your pillows.
Polyester pillows are not as easy to recycle as other household items, but they are recyclable. You do have to seek out a special textile recycling center or delivery service. You can also reuse your old pillows by donating them to animal shelters or repurposing them into throw pillows. Whatever you choose to do, you are keeping more polyester out of landfills and helping the environment.